Over the past year, Waymo has been conducting road tests of self-driving trucks in California and Arizona. The software is learning to drive big rigs in much the same way a human driver would after years of driving passenger cars. The principles are the same, but things like braking, turning, and blind spots are different with a fully-loaded truck and trailer.
Soon the company will begin testing Georgia. Atlanta is one of the biggest logistics hubs in the country, making it a natural home for Google’s logistical operations and the perfect environment for its next phase of testing Waymo’s self-driving trucks.
This pilot, in partnership with Google’s logistics team, will let us further develop our technology and integrate it into the operations of shippers and carriers, with their network of factories, distribution centers, ports and terminals. When the self-driving trucks hit the highways in the region, they will have highly-trained drivers in the cabs to monitor systems and take control if needed.
Waymo claims that they have been able to make rapid progress because our driver — Waymo’s self-driving technology — is not only experienced, but adaptable. The self-driving trucks use the same suite of custom-built sensors that power its self-driving minivan. They benefit from the same advanced self-driving software that has enabled the cars to go fully driverless in Arizona. And the 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. In short, the next near-decade of experience with passenger vehicles has given us a head start in trucking.
Trucking is a vital part of the American economy, and Waymo believes that its self-driving technology has the potential to make this sector safer and even stronger. With Waymo in the driver’s seat, they claim that they can reimagine many different types of transportation — from ride-hailing to logistics.