Today’s Pickup: Waymo to test self-driving trucks in Atlanta

Waymo will begin testing its self-driving truck technology in Atlanta, hauling Google logistics freight.

Good day,

Waymo announced late on Friday that its self-driving trucks will begin delivering goods for Google’s logistics operation in Atlanta.

“Over the past year, we’ve been conducting road tests of Waymo’s self-driving trucks in California and Arizona,” Waymo wrote on Medium. “Our software is learning to drive big rigs in much the same way a human driver would after years of driving passenger cars. The principles are the same, but things like braking, turning, and blind spots are different with a fully-loaded truck and trailer.”

The trucks will include professional drivers in the cabs to monitor systems and take control of the vehicle should the need arise, the company said.

“This pilot, in partnership with Google’s logistics team, 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 said.

Waymo explained that the development of the self-driving trucks could go quickly because they use the same suite of custom-built sensors that are deployed in the company’s self-driving minivan.

“And our engineers and AI experts are leveraging the same five million miles we’ve already self-driven on public roads, plus the five billion miles we’ve driven in simulation. In short, our near-decade of experience with passenger vehicles has given us a head start in trucking.”

Did you know?

With just weeks to go before the hard enforcement deadline of April 1, the CarriersLists rolling ELD survey shows that 10% of fleets overall still have not installed the devices.


“Order intake has been really strong now for several months. January and February were two of the largest order intake months ever in the history of the Class 8 truck market — so, really robust order activity.”

John Walsh, vice president of marketing, on the company raising its Class 8 order outlook to 280,000 trucks in 2018

In other news:

Package delivery drone tests set for takeoff

At least 10 tests for delivery drones are set for this spring in the U.S. as the FAA has ramped up the approval process. (Wall Street Journal)

Infrastructure bill may be several bills

House Speaker Paul Ryan says Congress will not tackle a large infrastructure bill, but rather handle an overhaul of infrastructure through a series of smaller bills. (The Hill)

Lufthansa Cargo to charge for paper waybills

Lufthansa Cargo has told customers that it will now charge them if they choose to use a paper waybill rather than electronic means. (The Loadstar)

Clinics at Pilot Flying J aim to keep truckers healthy, productive

UrgentCare Travel clinics at several Pilot Flying J locations are working to keep truck drivers healthy by addressing chronic health problems. (Knoxville News)

Daimler investing $3.2B in global truck R&D

Daimler said that it is investing $3.2 billion in research & development to develop electric vehicles and advance connectivity and autonomous driving technologies. (Heavy Duty Trucking)

Final Thoughts

The news around self-driving and autonomous trucks has been rapid in the past week with Waymo the latest company to announce on-road testing of the technology in Atlanta. Experts keep saying that we are years away from autonomous trucks, but with each day that passes, those years become a little closer.

Hammer down everyone!

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.