Waymo's self-driving trucks will start delivering freight in Atlanta

Isaac Cain
March 10, 2018

A safety driver in the truck will take over if anything goes wrong.

They'll travel to deliver server racks and other cargo destined for Google's data centers.

Waymo announced it was expanding its self-driving heavy duty truck pilot program to Atlanta, Ga.

Waymo does have a nine-year technological development lead over its competitors.

Waymo was a few days late to announce the rollout.

The race is heating up to remove the driver and get autonomous freight trucks on the road.

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'If you are in the Atlanta area, look for a bright blue Waymo truck making a run, ' Waymo said. Unlike Uber, Waymo will use its truck for internal business and has no intention of leasing them out to third-party companies.

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.

"Embark is also focusing on handling freeway driving, with a human driver on board who navigates city streets, "TechCrunch wrote last summer". But Waymo's ambition has always been to develop "level 4" vehicles that can handle complex traffic conditions on city streets.

But Waymo - a pioneer of the self-driving industry - is entering a space already crowded by competitors, including Uber, with the same challenges facing the passenger vehicle space: How does it plan to commercialize the technology? While numerous basic principles of a self-driving semi-truck are similar with passenger vehicles like the Lexus RX 450h and Chrysler Pacifica vehicles that Waymo typically uses, considerations have to be made for "braking, turning, and blind spots" with the fully-loaded weight of such a vehicle, and its vast size.

Waymo's autonomous trucks will have the same sensors and software that are on the minivans it's operating autonomously in the Phoenix, Arizona area.

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