Waymo, Google Launch Self-Driving Trucks In Atlanta

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

In an announcement post on Medium, Waymo revealed it's chosen Atlanta because it's a huge logistics hub, "making it a natural home for Google's logistical operations and the flawless environment for our next phase of testing Waymo's self-driving trucks".

"We are excited to partner with Waymo, the leader in self-driving technology, in testing self-driving trucks here in the No. 1 state for business", Deal said. Now, Waymo is teaching the software to manage the increased challenge of a truck. "The transport of freight and cargo is a critical driver for the American economy".

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Waymo hasn't provided much detail about its driverless truck tech, but there's reason to believe it may be more advanced than what its competitors have developed so far. Human drivers will be onboard at all times to monitor things and take control if needed. This confirms something we heard a bit about last summer. If you live in Atlanta and see one of Waymo's big blue trucks, then, you can rest assured that it isn't operating completely autonomously yet. But Waymo's ambition has always been to develop "level 4" vehicles that can handle complex traffic conditions on city streets. Although the basic principles of driving remain the same, driving a truck that's loaded down with cargo is trickier due to its size and different ways of handling.

Going the distance: Waymo has already driven five million miles on public roads and another five billion in simulation.

Uber claims to have made the first commercial shipment ever by a self-driving truck when it hauled a trailer full of Budweiser beer over about 120 miles (193 kilometers) of highway in Colorado. The company still has work to do, but starting with the industry-leading software in its minivans gives Waymo a significant head start.