Waymo to start rolling out self-driving truck fleet in Atlanta

Its rival Uber just revealed its own self-driving truck program.

Mar 9, 2018, 4:17 pm*

Tech

Phillip Tracy 

Phillip Tracy

waymo self-driving autonomous truck

Waymo

Waymo announced today that its self-driving trucks will deliver freight in Atlanta. This comes just days after archnemesis Uber detailed a similar program in Arizona.

The Alphabet-owned startup will use its autonomous fleet to send fright to Google’s data centers. The Peterbilt Class 8 trucks it’s using will be assisted by a “highly-trained” driver in case something goes wrong. Waymo’s self-driving trucks use the same sensors and software as its self-driving minivans and cars, which have been taxiing people around California and Arizona without a driver since November.

“Our software is learning to drive big rigs in much the same way a human driver would after years of driving passenger cars,” Waymo said in a blog post. “The principles are the same, but things like braking, turning, and blind spots are different with a fully-loaded truck and trailer.”

Waymo has been testing its autonomous tractor-trailers on roads in California and Arizona since last year. It chose Atlanta as the location for its first real-world operation because it’s one of Alphabet’s largest logistics hubs.

Waymo was a few days late to announce the rollout. On Tuesday, rival Uber said its self-driving trucks would begin transporting freight across Arizona. Unlike Uber, Waymo will use its truck for internal business and has no intention of leasing them out to third-party companies.

The two companies have a bitter history. In February, they shocked everyone by settling a lawsuit over allegations that Uber bought self-driving startup Otto to steal trade secrets from Waymo. Uber now owes Waymo $224 million.

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*First Published: Mar 9, 2018, 3:59 pm