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

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Moving onto trucks is possible because of the experience that the engineers and AI experts has gained in Waymo's autonomous passenger vehicles (five million road/five billion simulation miles traveled, apparently).

Waymo said that Atlanta is one of the largest USA logistics hubs, which is why it makes sense to test its autonomous trucks there with Google's cargo.

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Waymo announced Friday morning that it's beginning a self-driving truck pilot in Atlanta, Georgia. They use the same sensor suite that Google uses on its autonomous Pacifica minivan test platform, and make use of the same software that helped Waymo achieve fully driverless trials in Arizona, the company notes.

The firm chose Atlanta because it's one of the biggest logistics hubs in the US, and Google's logistical operations also take place from there.

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"On behalf of the State of Georgia, I am proud to welcome Waymo to Atlanta's community of industry leaders", said Georgia Governor Nathan Deal in a statement. "Nowhere is this economic development tool more apparent than in Atlanta, the nation's leading logistics hub".

"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.

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Commercial trucking is seen as one of the biggest areas of opportunity for self-driving technology. Of course, self-driving trucks aren't yet ready for full autonomy - there will be a driver present in the cab at all times, much as with cars.

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