Waymo launching self-driving truck pilot to Atlanta

Uber General Motors' Cruise Waymo and Zoox have all tested autonomous vehicles in San Francisco—and now the mayor has some

Literally, in this case - from self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans to autonomous Class 8 semi-trucks. The company announced on Friday that its self-driving trucks have begun hauling real cargo in the Atlanta area. During the pilot, a trained human driver will sit behind the wheel, ready to take over, if necessary.

The firm said that the software used to drive the big trucks is the same as that which drives the company's cars; the lorries also use the same suite of sensors that power Waymo's self-driving minivan.

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 began testing the technology on the trucks in 2017 at California and Arizona research facilities.

Waymo for years has been testing self-driving cars, racing against smartphone-summoned ride star Uber, whose trucking service uses humans to pick up cargo from Uber Freight customers and drive it in trailers to transfer hubs.

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"Things like braking, turning, and blind spots are different with a fully-loaded truck and trailer", Waymo writes. Unlike Uber, Waymo will use its truck for internal business and has no intention of leasing them out to third-party companies.

Waymo, the self-driving vehicle unit owned by Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL), has always been at the forefront of the self-driving auto revolution, and now it's bringing that expertise into the commercial trucking world as well. 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. It's doing this through the same way you'd each anyone with passenger vehicle driving experience on how to drive a semi truck. The company added that it believes that "self-driving technology has the potential to make this sector safer and even stronger".

Waymo's trucks will have plenty of competition.

"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".

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