Google's autonomous vehicle unit to test semis in Atlanta

Reuters

During the pilot programme, due to start next week, the self-driving Waymo lorries will carry cargo bound for Google's data centres.

Uber uses a "transfer hub" model, where a human driver takes a trailer through busy city streets at the beginning and end of a trip, while a self-driving truck drives a long-haul, freeway-only route in between.

This pilot, in partnership with Google's logistics team, allows for the further development of Waymo's technology and integrate it into the operations of shippers and carriers, with their network of distribution centers, ports and terminals.

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Over the past year, Waymo has been quietly conducting road tests of Waymo's self-driving trucks in California and Arizona. However, the company said in a blog post today that its truck project had a head start thanks to its existing self-driving technology, which Waymo said is "not only experienced, but adaptable". 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. Of course, Waymo's eventual goal is for its trucks to take care of themselves, and the company said that its pilot will help that vision become a reality sooner rather than later.

Today's announcement comes a couple of weeks after Waymo announced its self-driving cars had covered 5 million miles on public roads. Last week, Uber announced that its autonomous trucks have been operating in Arizona for a couple months now. Beyond that, Waymo's trucks will also be outfitted with the same set of custom-built sensors that we've seen on the company's self-driving minivan. It's doing this through the same way you'd each anyone with passenger auto driving experience on how to drive a semi truck. 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.

Waymo is poised to change how we get a ride and now the company is focusing on how we get various goods.

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