Alphabet's Waymo Takes on Freight in Atlanta Driverless Semis


The pilot is being done in partnership with Google, another Alphabet company and Waymo's former direct owner back when it was the Google self-driving auto project.

Waymo driverless trucks will go to work in the Atlanta area Monday as part of a pilot program meant to help integrate autonomous big rigs with the operations of shippers, ports, terminals, factories, and distribution centers, according to the company.

Waymo is going to be looking to leverage their already 9-year experience in self-driving technology to truck driving, but even with all their experience, they are going to face some significant competition in the space.

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.

Commercial trucking is seen as one of the biggest areas of opportunity for self-driving technology.

Alphabet's self-driving auto tech division, Waymo, has been making quite a bit of progress with their vehicles lately.

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The latest installment, coming on the heels of a settled lawsuit between the two tech giants, involves self-driving truck testing.

Now, the company's much larger truck will be using some of the same data and systems to navigate Atlanta.

The company chose Atlanta as its testing platform because Google's logistical operations are located there.

"Things like braking, turning, and blind spots are different with a fully-loaded truck and trailer", Waymo writes. 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.

However, it isn't just minivans that have gotten the Waymo treatment.

Though Waymo has been testing its self-driving semis for a year now, they're not quite ready for the big leagues yet. "The transport of freight and cargo is a critical driver for the American economy. With Waymo in the driver's seat, we can reimagine many different types of transportation - from ride-hailing to logistics", explains the company in a blog post.