Waymo will begin self-driving semi truck pilot in Atlanta next week

Uber General Motors' Cruise Waymo and Zoox have all tested autonomous vehicles in San Francisco—and now the mayor has some

Waymo announced it was expanding its self-driving heavy duty truck pilot program to Atlanta, Ga. There will, of course, be highly trained drivers in the cabs in case anything goes awry.

Over the past year, Waymo has been conducting road tests of its self-driving trucks in California and Arizona. While creating driverless taxis is still one Waymo's main goals, today we're seeing the company branch out to something a little different: Semi trucks.

Waymo's bright blue autonomous trucks will hit the highways of Atlanta starting next week, shuttling cargo bound for Google's data centers. 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.

Uber claims to have made the first commercial shipment ever by a self-driving truck when it hauled a trailer full of Budweiser beer over about 120 miles (193 kilometers) of highway in Colorado.

Waymo claims that it has five million miles of real word experience with its autonomous vehicles and another five billion miles that have been traveled using simulations. While the trucks are capable of carrying the full 80,000-pound weight of a loaded big rig, the actual weights tested will depend on the type of shipment, a Waymo spokeswoman said.

Now that Waymo is free of its long-running legal battle with Uber, it is focusing its attention on more important endeavors; namely spreading its self-driving technology to more platforms. Germany's Daimler AG got a jump on Waymo when it showed off its fully licensed autonomous Freightliner Inspiration truck at the Hoover Dam in 2015. It wasn't clear that the company had already been testing it.

Waymo believes self-driving technology has the potential to make this sector safer and more efficient.

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