Published: Sat, March 10, 2018
Markets | By Josh Butler

Waymo, Google Launch Self-Driving Trucks In Atlanta

Waymo, Google Launch Self-Driving Trucks In Atlanta

Self-driving tractor-trailer trucks have begun delivering cargo in the Atlanta area, Waymo, Google Inc.'s vehicle subsidiary, announced Friday.

Waymo driverless trucks will go to work in the Atlanta area Monday as part of a pilot program meant to help integrate autonomous big rigs with the operations of shippers, ports, terminals, factories, and distribution centers, according to the company.

Waymo is expanding its self-driving big-rig tests to Atlanta.

Waymo has been testing its autonomous tractor-trailers on roads in California and Arizona since past year.

Earlier this week, Uber revealed that it is testing a hybrid freight delivery system that mixes self-driving and driver-operated trucks created to reduce fatigue for truckers and long absences from home.

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The announcement is the latest sign of the accelerated pace at which autonomous trucking is moving from sci-fi to reality.

A Waymo spokeswoman declined to say how many trucks will be tested. According to the American Trucking Associations, trucking revenues were $676.2 billion in 2016, while trucks moved more than 10.4 billion tons of freight. 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.

'If you are in the Atlanta area, look for a bright blue Waymo truck making a run, ' Waymo said. Though Waymo has already been testing that service throughout the city on a smaller scale, it's expected to roll out in earnest sometime this year.

Initially, Waymo will have a safety driver behind the wheel just like these other companies. It has been developing its autonomous vehicle technology for nearly a decade now. With Waymo in the driver's seat, we can reimagine many different types of transportation - from ride-hailing to logistics.

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