Waymo has big news to share: next week, it will start testing self-driving trucks on the streets of Atlanta.
The self-driving car unit of Google's parent company, Alphabet, became a standalone division called Waymo back in 2016. It has made significant headway in the self-driving space since then, and the upcoming tests mark another important milestone.
Waymo Self-Driving Trucks Headed To Atlanta
In a post published on Medium on Friday, March 9, Waymo announced that it will start a new pilot program next week in Atlanta, which will entail using a self-driving truck to deliver cargo to Google's data center.
Waymo says that it always planned to make it easy and safe to move around both people and things. If so far it has focused on people for the main part, now it wants to focus more on things.
Last year, Google had the world's first fleet of fully autonomous cars roaming the streets of Phoenix, Arizona. It has also started testing self-driving trucks in California and Arizona, and now it's ready to move onto the next stage and test self-driving cars in Atlanta, to deliver things. Waymo is confident that self-driving tech has the potential to make trucking safer and better.
Waymo's Mission For Self-Driving Trucks
"Our software is learning to drive big rigs in much the same way a human driver would after years of driving passenger cars," says Waymo. "The principles are the same, but things like braking, turning, and blind spots are different with a fully-loaded truck and trailer."
The self-driving car unit further adds that Atlanta is one of the largest logistics hubs in the United States. It's where Google carries out its logistics operations, and it's ideal for Waymo's next tests for self-driving trucks. The pilot program will kick off next week in Georgia.
In collaboration with the logistics team at Google, this pilot program will enable Waymo to fine-tune its technology and implement it for shipping and carrying operations, complete with their factories network, ports, terminals, and distribution centers.
Not Fully Self-Driving Just Yet
Waymo self-driving trucks will start roaming the highways of Atlanta, but they still require humans to be in the vehicle. Human drivers will be in the trucks' cabins at all times, monitoring the systems and ready to take control should anything go wrong.
Lastly, Waymo adds that its self-driving trucks rely on the same technology, advanced software, and custom-built sensors as its self-driving minivan. The company says that its technology could enable various applications, from logistics to ride-hailing.