Waymo launching self-driving truck pilot to Atlanta

The Alphabet Inc. unit says the trucks will have the same technology and sensors as autonomous minivans that are being tested in the Phoenix area

The Alphabet Inc. unit says the trucks will have the same technology and sensors as autonomous minivans that are being tested in the Phoenix area

Waymo, Alphabet Inc.'s autonomous vehicle company, is finally ready to put its self-driving trucks to work.

The company announced Friday it plans to use its self-driving trucks to deliver freight bound for Google's data centers in Atlanta.

The trucks will have safety drivers on board to monitor the various systems and take control if needed. The trucks won't be completely driverless, but will be operating on public roads during the pilot, the company said.

Mostly known for its self-driving cars, Waymo has integrated its technology into Peterbilt Class 8 trucks, which will carry cargo to Google data centers.

Waymo said the trucks have already logged thousands of miles in California and Arizona, so Georgia is the third market in which they're being tested. Over this period, Waymo has improved its software by learning to drive the big rigs in much the same way a human driver would after years of driving passenger cars.

"Things like braking, turning, and blind spots are different with a fully-loaded truck and trailer", Waymo writes.

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Waymo, the self-driving vehicle unit owned by Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL), has always been at the forefront of the self-driving auto revolution, and now it's bringing that expertise into the commercial trucking world as well. Our self-driving trucks use the same suite of custom-built sensors that power our self-driving minivan.

Today's announcement comes a couple of weeks after Waymo announced its self-driving cars had covered 5 million miles on public roads. Even though most of those miles were for passenger vehicles, the firm says almost a decade of experience gives it a head start in trucking.

Tesla, of course, recently announced an all-electric semi truck with limited self-driving capabilities. 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.

Autonomous-vehicle technology has been touted as having potential to save fuel, ease congestion, and make transportation safer.

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

Waymo's self-driving trucks will start rolling out next week.

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