Waymo begins testing autonomous semi trucks

  • Waymo begins testing autonomous semi trucks

Waymo begins testing autonomous semi trucks

Waymo's pilot program launches next week in Atlanta, but the self-driving trucks will not be driving alone.

Waymo's autonomous trucking program is coming along - though we haven't heard much about it since discovering it was a real thing past year, Waymo today announced that it's launching a pilot program in Atlanta to focus specifically on self-driving trucks and automated logistics.

Waymo revealed Friday it integrated its self-driving system into Class 8 big rig trucks and has already been testing in California and Arizona.

Rival Uber made a similar announcement on Tuesday, saying it is using self-driving semi trucks to augment human-driven rigs in its on-demand trucking service in the U.S. state of Arizona. The software is also the same and it benefits from having driven five million miles on public roads and over five billion miles in simulations. The latest announcement suggests the company has a years-long lead over several other players working on autonomous highway logistics. "The principles are the same, but things like braking, turning, and blind spots are different with a fully-loaded truck and trailer". Waymo sees a future where consumers can summon a lift from its fleet of driverless cars, and it has been carrying out testing related to such a service. Earlier this week, Uber announced that its driverless trucks would begin hauling freight in Arizona-also with a safety driver in the truck.

"So far, the focus has mostly been on people", the company says (emphasis in original). The company still has work to do, but starting with the industry-leading software in its minivans gives Waymo a significant head start.

Human drivers will be on board Waymo trucks to take control if needed.