Waymo is starting out small with this pilot test, using these semi trucks to carry cargo destined for Google's data centers. As our self-driving trucks hit the highways in the region, we'll have highly-trained drivers in the cabs to monitor systems and take control if needed. Additionally, the trucks will be building upon the 5 million miles that the company's autonomous vehicles have already driven on public roads and the other 5 million miles of driving that have been simulated. Waymo is among the leaders in autonomous technology and the company says they expect self-driving big rigs to take over long-distance trucking in the coming years, leaving short hauls and local deliveries to human drivers.
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Waymo's autonomous trucks will have the same sensors and software that are on the minivans it's operating autonomously in the Phoenix, Arizona area.
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The pilot is being done in partnership with Google, another Alphabet company and Waymo's former direct owner back when it was the Google self-driving auto project. Interestingly, the company said it now has nearly 10 years of experience in self-driving passenger vehicles, which it will leverage for its autonomous trucks. It said that the software is learning to drive trucks in the same way a human would after years of driving a auto. In the pilot, Waymo will integrate its technology into the operations of shippers and carriers with their network of factories, distribution centres, ports and terminals. The principles are the same, but things like braking, turning, and blind spots are different with a fully-loaded truck and trailer.
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