Waymo begins automated truck on-road testing

Start-up makes no secret of desire to push into US commercial transport

Waymo begins automated truck on-road testing
The Waymo self-driving truck


The US may not be bumper-to-bumper with futuristic test trucks but there is action a plenty on certain roads, with Waymo joining the throng.

Already beyond its automated passenger vehicle beginnings, the Google/Alphabet start-up is looking to get open-road testing of its self-driving trucks underway this week in the state of 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 our next phase of testing Waymo’s self-driving trucks, the company states.

"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 [sic], ports and terminals.

"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."

Using a Peterbilt bonneted prime mover and semi-trailer as a platform, Waymo says the vehicle is armed with sensors and software already in use on its car and minivan, along with software used for the 5 million miles (8 million km) those smaller vehicles have travelled and 5 billion miles in simulation.

"Trucking is a vital part of the American economy, and we believe self-driving technology has the potential to make this sector safer and even stronger.

"With Waymo in the driver’s seat, we can reimagine many different types of transportation — from ride-hailing to logistics."

So far this month Uber Freight trucks have been on the road and Elon Musk has highlighted the developments with the Tesla Semi.

"First production cargo trip of the Tesla Semi heavy duty truck, carrying battery packs from the Gigafactory in the Nevada mountains to the car factory in California," Musk reported on Instagram in a post that at one stage had gained 866,231 likes in five days.


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