Alphabet's autonomous vehicle division, Waymo, has announced that it is deploying a fleet of self-driving trucks to the roads of Atlanta. The company announced on Friday that its self-driving trucks have begun hauling real cargo in the Atlanta area. A highly-trained safety operator will be in the cab to monitor systems and take control if needed.
Mostly known for its self-driving cars, Waymo has integrated its technology into Peterbilt Class 8 trucks, which will carry cargo to Google data centers.
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Waymo, formerly part of Google X, started working on self-driving cars back in 2009, but trucks are a relatively new frontier for the company. "Our software is learning to drive big rigs in much the same way a human driver would after years of driving passenger cars".
"Things like braking, turning, and blind spots are different with a fully-loaded truck and trailer", Waymo writes. Of course, Waymo's eventual goal is for its trucks to take care of themselves, and the company said that its pilot will help that vision become a reality sooner rather than later.
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"They benefit from the same advanced self-driving software that has enabled our cars to go fully driverless in Arizona", the Waymo team said. "In short, our near-decade of experience with passenger vehicles has given us a head start in trucking". It's doing this through the same way you'd each anyone with passenger auto driving experience on how to drive a semi truck. The other three companies we've mentioned-Uber, Starsky, and Embark-have all focused on freeway driving, which is generally considered the easiest type of driving to automate. Last week, Uber announced that its autonomous trucks have been operating in Arizona for a couple months now. So we may see self-driving trucks on the roads before cars without drivers.
Waymo is poised to change how we get a ride and now the company is focusing on how we get various goods. There, the trailers are hitched onto self-driving trucks for long highway hauls, according to the San Francisco-based company.
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