Waymo launching self-driving truck pilot in Atlanta
- Author: Gina Adkins Mar 10, 2018,
Mar 10, 2018, 1:36
"Our software is learning to drive big rigs in much the same way a human driver would after years of driving passenger cars", Waymo said in a blog post. Just as Uber is ramping up its autonomous-truck development program, Waymo is launching a self-driving truck pilot of its own.
The company announced Friday it plans to use its self-driving trucks to deliver freight bound for Google's data centers in Atlanta. While numerous basic principles of a self-driving semi-truck are similar with passenger vehicles like the Lexus RX 450h and Chrysler Pacifica vehicles that Waymo typically uses, considerations have to be made for "braking, turning, and blind spots" with the fully-loaded weight of such a vehicle, and its vast size. There will, of course, be highly trained drivers in the cabs in case anything goes awry.
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The self-driving vehicles head to transfer hubs close to their destinations, where the trailers are connected back onto human-steered rigs to complete their journeys. Georgia is now the seventh state for Waymo's tests, joining pilots in California, Texas, Washington, Nevada, Michigan, and Arizona.
Commercial trucking is seen as one of the biggest areas of opportunity for self-driving technology.
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Autonomous-vehicle technology has been touted as having potential to save fuel, ease congestion, and make transportation safer. Waymo's announcement ends months of rumors that the former Google self-driving vehicle project would attempt to rival Uber with robo-trucks.
The new project, which will be developed in partnership with Google's logistics operations, will look into the ways self-driving trucks can integrate with distribution networks and shippers, including factories, ports and terminals.
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But the non-profit Consumer Watchdog warned that roads are being turned "into private laboratories for robot cars with no regard for our safety".