Waymo and Google launch self-driving truck pilot in Atlanta

Waymo and Google launch self-driving truck pilot in Atlanta

Waymo is expanding the scope of its self-driving experiments, announcing Friday that its autonomous trucks would soon begin delivering freight for Google's data centers in Atlanta. It's done in the same way you'd teach anyone with passenger vehicle driving experience how to drive a semi, writes Engadget.

Waymo said that Atlanta is one of the largest USA logistics hubs, which is why it makes sense to test its autonomous trucks there with Google's cargo. If you live in Atlanta and see one of Waymo's big blue trucks, then, you can rest assured that it isn't operating completely autonomously yet. Although it sounds like the trucks will be driving themselves from the beginning of the program, Waymo will have drivers in the cabs of the trucks just in case there's a problem and they need to take over control of the vehicle. Germany's Daimler AG got a jump on Waymo when it showed off its fully licensed autonomous Freightliner Inspiration truck at the Hoover Dam in 2015.

Waymo said it would be focusing entirely on self-driving trucks and automated logistics in the pilot program.

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The company explained that its software is "learning to drive big rigs in much the same way a human driver would after years of driving passenger cars".

In January, Waymo said it would start testing its minivans in Atlanta to experiment with driving in the city's dense traffic and high summer temperatures. Waymo says the "principles are the same, but things like braking, turning, and blind spots are different with a fully-loaded truck and trailer". Georgia is now the seventh state for Waymo's tests, joining pilots in California, Texas, Washington, Nevada, Michigan, and Arizona.

Waymo's autonomous vehicles have now racked up more than five million self-driven miles on public roads, and all of that testing is helping the company move forward with trucking quickly.

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