Alphabet's autonomous auto division, Waymo, has announced that it is deploying a fleet of self-driving trucks to the roads of Atlanta. Starting next week, Waymo will launch a pilot in Atlanta, Ga. where its self-driving trucks will carry cargo bound for Google's data centers.
Uber has been testing self-driving truck technology since 2016, and began using autonomous rigs for hauls late past year. Over this period, Waymo has improved its software by learning to drive the big rigs in much the same way a human driver would after years of driving passenger cars.
Waymo, Google parent Alphabet Inc's division focused on autonomous vehicles, is about to expand its testing further in Georgia. That would mean a truck that can drive itself all the way from one loading dock to another-no safety driver, transfer hub, or remote operator needed.
The announcement is the latest sign of the accelerated pace at which autonomous trucking is moving from sci-fi to reality. Back in October, we reported the company's vehicles could be intelligent enough to handle emergencies without any human input. 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. As the company explains, the basic principles are the same but driving a semi is harder as the braking, turning radius and blind spots are completely different than on normal passenger cars.
Above Waymo truck
The firm chose Atlanta because it's one of the biggest logistics hubs in the US, and Google's logistical operations also take place from there.
'If you are in the Atlanta area, look for a bright blue Waymo truck making a run, ' Waymo said.
This news comes after Uber revealed its own autonomous trucking progress earlier this week, and after startup Embark reported a cross-country trip of its own test platform earlier this year.
Still, Waymo said it's been able to make rapid progress because its trucking tech shares numerous same components developed for its self-driving minivan, including sensors and software.