Saturday, 23 June, 2018

Waymo pilots self-driving cargo trucks for Google's Atlanta datacenters

Waymo’s self-driving tech spreads to semi trucks Waymo moves beyond driverless taxis with trucking program
Cristina Norman | 11 March, 2018, 01:49

Starsky envisions trucks driving autonomously on the freeway, but having a human driver driving the truck remotely at the beginning and end of the trip. Waymo's trucks will be hauling cargo destined for Google's Atlanta-based data centres as part of the program.

The latest test will help Waymo to "further develop our technology and integrate it into the operations of shippers and carriers, with their network of factories, distribution centers, ports and terminals".

Waymo, the former Google self-driving project that spun out to become a business under parent company Alphabet, is scaling up. Just like a regular driver who is moving from passenger cars to semi trucks for the first time, Waymo's AI has been learning the differences in driving a semi truck over the past year. Waymo says the "principles are the same, but things like braking, turning, and blind spots are different with a fully-loaded truck and trailer". The company has also been working on a fleet of autonomous semi trucks and they're finally ready to be put to the test. In January, Google brought its self-driving cars and minivans to Atlanta for testing and mapping. The company noted that its system leverages data collected from 5 million autonomous miles driven with another 5 billion driven in simulation. 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 USA state of Arizona.

While the automotive industry is focused on self-driving cars, operating self-driving cars on city streets seems much more complicated than sending a truck down the highway without a driver.

"As we look to the future of innovation and efficiency, self-driving vehicles are at the forefront of enhancing roadway safety and making the transportation of American goods more feasible". So we may see self-driving trucks on the roads before cars without drivers.

Waymo's trucks will have plenty of competition.

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