Waymo Extends Self-Driving Trials To Cargo-Carrying Semi Trucks In Atlanta

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Starting next week, Waymo will begin testing a fleet of fully-autonomous semi trucks in and around Atlanta, Georgia.

Capping a frenzied week in the development of self-driving trucks, Waymo announced a pilot test of its own autonomous trucks Friday. 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. Starsky envisions trucks driving autonomously on the freeway, but having a human driver driving the truck remotely at the beginning and end of the trip. The drivers will also be able to monitor the computer systems while the trucks drive themselves.

Waymo and Uber last month said they had settled a lawsuit over allegedly stolen trade secrets from the former Google self-driving auto project.

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A Waymo spokeswoman declined to say how many trucks will be tested.

Waymo said: 'The principles are the same, but things like braking, turning and blind spots are different with a fully-loaded truck and trailer.

The company has been known to have been working on a truck program since last summer, but they confirmed it today in a blog post. 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.

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Waymo hasn't provided much detail about its driverless truck tech, but there's reason to believe it may be more advanced than what its competitors have developed so far.

Initially, Waymo will have a safety driver behind the wheel just like these other companies. Though Waymo has already been testing that service throughout the city on a smaller scale, it's expected to roll out in earnest sometime this year.

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

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