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Waymo self-driving trucks begin hauling for Google's data centers

11 March 2018

The announcement comes the same week that Uber said its self-driving trucks will begin operating on Arizona highways. During the pilot programme, due to start next week, the self-driving Waymo lorries will carry cargo bound for Google's data centres. Though the goal is for the truck to drive itself, there will be a driver in the cab to monitor systems and take over if there's an emergency.

The trucks have already been tested in Arizona and California and Waymo says its software learned to drive "big rigs in much the same way a human driver would after years of driving passenger cars".

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"This pilot will let us further develop our technology and integrate it into the operations of shippers and carriers, with their network of factories, distribution centers, ports, and terminals", Waymo added. It said that the software is learning to drive trucks in the same way a human would after years of driving a vehicle. As the company explains, the basic principles are the same but driving a semi is harder as the braking, turning radius and blind spots are completely different than on normal passenger cars. During that process, Waymo began collecting data and mapping the metro Atlanta area to safely expand the operations of their self-driving cars. Our self-driving trucks use the same suite of custom-built sensors that power our self-driving minivan. Rival Uber made a similar announcement on Tuesday, saying it is using self-driving semi trucks to augment human-driven rigs in its on-demand trucking service in the U.S. state of Arizona.

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

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The race is heating up to remove the driver and get autonomous freight trucks on the road.

"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".

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Waymo's trucks will have plenty of competition.

Waymo self-driving trucks begin hauling for Google's data centers