Waymo pilots self-driving cargo trucks for Google's Atlanta datacenters


The announcement comes the same week that Uber said its self-driving trucks will begin operating on Arizona highways.

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.

The bright blue trucks in Waymo's Atlanta pilot will still have back-up drivers in the cabs to monitor systems and take control if needed.

"Over the past year, we've been conducting road tests of Waymo's self-driving trucks in California and Arizona", Waymo wrote in a blog post.

Waymo's goal is to eventually integrate this technology into their shipping operations across their network of factories, distribution centers, ports and terminals.

Waymo, Google parent Alphabet Inc's division focused on autonomous vehicles, is about to expand its testing further in Georgia.

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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. "The principles are the same, but things like braking, turning, and blind spots are different with a fully-loaded truck and trailer".

Both moves are only the latest steps in the advancement of self-driving auto technology.

Google's Waymo has been testing autonomous vehicles for quite some time, so it's taking the next logical step by shifting the technology over to trucks. "And our engineers and AI experts are leveraging the same five million miles we've already self-driven on public roads, plus the five billion miles we've driven in simulation". Another startup called Embark has been hauling real cargo with autonomous trucks (and a safety driver behind the wheel) since last fall.

USA states set their own rules for roads, and a handful have passed laws allowing self-driving vehicles. Unlike Uber, Waymo will use its truck for internal business and has no intention of leasing them out to third-party companies.

Waymo's self-driving trucks will start rolling out next week.