Electronics

Waymo's self-driving 18-wheelers hit the road in Georgia

Waymo's self-driving 18-wheelers hit the road in Georgia

Alphabet's autonomous vehicle division, Waymo, has announced that it is deploying a fleet of self-driving trucks to the roads of Atlanta. The massive, Class 8 over-the-road trucks are being used to haul loads to Google's Georgia data centers. Of course, self-driving trucks aren't yet ready for full autonomy - there will be a driver present in the cab at all times, much as with cars. Waymo has also tested the trucks on roads in California and Arizona but a spokesperson says they are "accelerating their learning and moving into a new phase of testing in Georgia".

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". 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.

Waymo, which is among the leaders for this technology, expects autonomous vehicles to be able to take over longer distance trucking in the coming years, while allowing human drivers to handle local pickup and delivery routes.

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The firm chose Atlanta because it's one of the biggest logistics hubs in the US, and Google's logistical operations also take place from there.

Waymo's goal is to eventually integrate this technology into their shipping operations across their network of factories, distribution centers, ports and terminals.


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