Waymo is expanding the reach of its self-directed experiments, announcing on Friday that its autonomous trucks will soon start delivering cargo to Google's data centers in Atlanta. The trucks will not be completely without a driver, but they will be operating on public roads during the pilot, the company said.
Waymo is partnering with the logistics team of sister company Google to "develop our technology and integrate it into the operations of carriers and carriers, with its network of factories, distribution centers, ports and terminals." As one of the largest logistics centers in the country, Atlanta is "the perfect environment" for this type of test, the company said.
Atlanta is "the perfect environment"
Waymo began testing its autonomous technology in class 8 trailers last year in California and Arizona. In January, the company brought some of its automatic driving minivans to Atlanta for mapping and public testing. Google data centers have been located in the Atlanta region since 2003, so the idea of moving to a new testing phase with the company's trucks seemed an organic next step.
Waymo vans use the same set of custom sensors that power the company's automatic driving minivans. They also use the same autonomous driving software that has allowed Waymo passenger cars to be completely driverless in Arizona. Waymo plans to launch a driverless hail driver in Phoenix sometime in 2018.
The announcement of Waymo comes hand in hand with a similar effort of archrival Uber. Earlier this week, the hail race giant announced that its autonomous truck fleet was making deliveries to Arizona. Uber said he is using a transfer center model, in which trucks drive autonomously on the road and human drivers take care of the last few miles.
Waymo is limiting its deliveries
However, unlike Uber, Waymo is limiting its deliveries within its own corporate circle. The autodirección company has not yet expressed interest in the delivery of intermediation between shippers and receivers such as Uber with its Uber Freight company. In February, Waymo and Uber settled a contentious lawsuit over allegations that Uber had stolen Waymo's self-control secrets. The lawsuit focused on the acquisition of Otto by Uber.
Waymo is also not the only company that uses automatic driving trucks to transport cargo. A company called Embark has been shipping refrigerators between southern California and Texas since the end of 2017. The startup has just completed a coast-to-coast trip from Los Angeles to Jacksonville, Florida, driving 2,400 miles autonomously. Seattle-based truck technology company Convoy has raised $ 62 million for its application that combines trucking companies with carriers that need to move cargo.