Google’s autonomous vehicle division, Waymo, is launching a pilot in Atlanta where its self-driving trucks will carry freight bound for Google’s data centres.
In a blog post it says that over the past year, it’s been conducting road tests of Waymo’s self-driving trucks in California and Arizona and now it’s heading to Georgia because 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 the 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,” the blog says. “As our self-driving trucks hit the highways in the region, we’ll have highly-trained drivers in the cabs to monitor systems and take control if needed.”
Waymo says its 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.”
“We’ve been able to make rapid progress because our driver?—?Waymo’s self-driving technology?—?is not only experienced, but adaptable,” the blog continues. “Our self-driving trucks use the same suite of custom-built sensors that power our self-driving minivan. They benefit from the same advanced self-driving software that has enabled our cars to go fully driverless in Arizona. 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. In short, our near-decade of experience with passenger vehicles has given us a head start in trucking.”