Google's Waymo To Face Off With Tesla In Autonomous Trucks
Google's Waymo To Face Off With Tesla In Autonomous Trucks
Waymo moves beyond driverless taxis with trucking program
11 March, 2018, 01:50
The company announced Friday it plans to use its self-driving trucks to deliver freight bound for Google's data centers in Atlanta. Though the goal is for the truck to drive itself, there will be a driver in the cab to monitor systems and take over if there's an emergency.
Waymo driverless trucks will go to work in the Atlanta area Monday as part of a pilot programme meant to help integrate autonomous big rigs with the operations of shippers, ports, terminals, factories, and distribution centres, according to the company. Google's own logistics team is partnering with Waymo to develop the autonomous trucks through the pilot program. 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. Although the basic principles of driving remain the same, driving a truck that's loaded down with cargo is trickier due to its size and different ways of handling. They benefit from the same advanced self-driving software that has enabled our cars to go fully driverless in Arizona.
Waymo says it uses the same technology for its trucks, so it's a good guess that the company is aiming to achieve the same level of autonomy for its trucking fleet.
Uber has been testing self-driving truck technology since 2016, and began using autonomous rigs for hauls late previous year.
Going the distance: Waymo has already driven five million miles on public roads and another five billion in simulation. Another startup called Embark has been hauling real cargo with autonomous trucks (and a safety driver behind the wheel) since last fall. The program, called Uber Freight, addresses shipping logistics with software, connecting shippers to available truck drivers via an app- much like Uber's ride-hailing app works.
Autonomous-vehicle technology has been touted as having potential to save fuel, ease congestion, and make transportation safer.
USA states set their own rules for roads, and a handful have passed laws allowing self-driving vehicles.
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