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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.
Phillip Tracy is a former technology staff writer at the Daily Dot. He's an expert on smartphones, social media trends, and gadgets. He previously reported on IoT and telecom for RCR Wireless News and contributed to NewBay Media magazine. He now writes for Laptop magazine.