Friday, 22 June, 2018

Google to use Waymo self-driving trucks in Atlanta

EnlargeWaymo EnlargeWaymo
Jodi Jackson | 11 March, 2018, 01:50

Since this technology is still in its infancy compared to some of Waymo's other projects, their autonomous semi trucks will have "highly-trained" drivers in the cab at all times, ready to take control of the vehicle in the event of an emergency or an AI hiccup. During the pilot programme, due to start next week, the self-driving Waymo lorries will carry cargo bound for Google's data centres.

The autonomous 18-wheelers have a driver on board for safety purposes, but are operating on public roads in self-driving mode, using an array of cameras, custom-made sensors and software, Waymo said.

To accomplish this, Waymo will be teaming up with Google's logistics team to accelerate the development of their self-driving semi truck technology and "integrate it into the operations of shippers and carriers". Waymo and Google's logistics team are pairing up to tackle this together, and this pilot program is the culmination of one year of testing in California and Arizona.

The company explained that its software is "learning to drive big rigs in much the same way a human driver would after years of driving passenger cars".

"Things like braking, turning, and blind spots are different with a fully-loaded truck and trailer", Waymo writes.

Both moves are only the latest steps in the advancement of self-driving vehicle technology. Interestingly, the company said it now has nearly 10 years of experience in self-driving passenger vehicles, which it will leverage for its autonomous trucks. "In short, our near-decade of experience with passenger vehicles has given us a head start in trucking". The company added that it believes that "self-driving technology has the potential to make this sector safer and even stronger".

Tesla, of course, recently announced an all-electric semi truck with limited self-driving capabilities. There, the trailers are hitched onto self-driving trucks for long highway hauls, according to the San Francisco-based company.

USA states set their own rules for roads, and a handful have passed laws allowing self-driving vehicles.

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