Alphabet's Waymo to test driverless trucks in Atlanta

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Waymo announced today that it will have self-driving semi trucks up and running in Atlanta, Georgia beginning next week.

A Waymo trial is hauling cargo between Google's Atlanta data centers. The company said that trained drivers will ride inside the truck cabs to monitor their progress and take over if needed. Waymo wouldn't say how many trucks are being tested, but it released pictures showing two blue semis.

The latest test will help Waymo to "further develop our technology and integrate it into the operations of shippers and carriers, with their network of factories, distribution centers, ports and terminals".

To be clear, this isn't the first time Waymo has tested their semi trucks in public - the company is well aware of the many differences between driving a semi truck and driving a traditional minivan.

"Our software is learning to drive big rigs in much the same way a human driver would after years of driving passenger cars", Waymo said in a blog post.

"Things like braking, turning, and blind spots are different with a fully-loaded truck and trailer", Waymo writes.

Waymo self-driving tractor trailer
Enlarge Image That bright-blue rig is going to need Waymo space than one of Alphabet's self-driving minivans. Waymo

"They benefit from the same advanced self-driving software that has enabled our cars to go fully driverless in Arizona", the Waymo team said. Earlier this year, Waymo announced that it would begin driving full-autonomous cars in Phoenix.

Going the distance: Waymo has already driven five million miles on public roads and another five billion in simulation. It's doing this through the same way you'd each anyone with passenger vehicle driving experience on how to drive a semi truck. 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.

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

Autonomous-vehicle technology has been touted as having potential to save fuel, ease congestion, and make transportation safer.

Waymo's trucks will have plenty of competition.

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