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

11 March 2018

In a post on Medium, Waymo announced that it will be starting a pilot program for its autonomous trucks in Atlanta, Georgia next week.

The bright blue trucks in Waymo's Atlanta pilot will still have back-up drivers in the cabs to monitor systems and take control if needed.

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.

Over the past year, Waymo has been quietly conducting road tests of Waymo's self-driving trucks in California and Arizona.

"Our software is learning to drive big rigs in much the same way a human driver would after years of driving passenger cars", the company's post said. Waymo says 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 autonomous cars in the wild for some time and has also revealed plans for a self-driving ride-hailing service and unveiled a self-driving minivan. The software is also the same and it benefits from having driven five million miles on public roads and over five billion miles in simulations. 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.

People will be riding in the self-driving semis on Atlanta's streets monitoring the trucks. A statement from Waymo said they will be in place to take control of the vehicles if the need arises
Waymo moves beyond driverless taxis with trucking program

The announcement comes days after rival Uber said its fleet of self-driving trucks was in use in Arizona.

While the automotive industry is focused on self-driving cars, operating self-driving cars on city streets seems much more complicated than sending a truck down the highway without a driver.

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

"As we look to the future of innovation and efficiency, self-driving vehicles are at the forefront of enhancing roadway safety and making the transportation of American goods more feasible".

U.S. states set their own rules for roads, and a handful have passed laws allowing self-driving vehicles.

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