Waymo, Google parent Alphabet Inc’s division focused on autonomous vehicles, is about to expand its testing further in Georgia. Starting next week, Waymo’s self-driving trucks will travel through metro Atlanta, delivering cargo to Google’s data center in Douglas County, Georgia.
In January, Waymo announced it would be bringing a fleet of self-driving minivans to Atlanta, its 24th market to test those vehicles. During that process, Waymo began collecting data and mapping the metro Atlanta area to safely expand the operations of their self-driving cars.
Now, the company’s much larger truck will be using some of the same data and systems to navigate Atlanta. Waymo has also tested the trucks on roads in California and Arizona but a spokesperson says they are “accelerating their learning and moving into a new phase of testing in Georgia.”
The company cites Georgia’s status as a logistics hub as the reasoning behind launching the pilot here. With more than 12,000 logistics providers employing over 150,000 in the state, along with the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta is one of the top supply chain centers in the country.
“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. “The transport of freight and cargo is a critical driver for the American economy. Nowhere is this economic development tool more apparent than in Atlanta, the nation’s leading logistics hub.”
“As we look to the future of innovation and efficiency, self-driving vehicles are at the forefront of enhancing roadway safety and making the transportation of American goods more feasible. We are excited to partner with Waymo, the leader in self-driving technology, in testing self-driving trucks here in the No. 1 state for business,” Deal said.
Waymo’s goal is to eventually integrate this technology into their shipping operations across their network of factories, distribution centers, ports and terminals. Though the goal is for the truck to drive itself, there will be a driver in the cab to monitor systems and take over if there’s an emergency.
“Trucking is a vital part of the American economy, and we believe self-driving technology has the potential to make this sector safer and even stronger. With Waymo in the driver’s seat, we can reimagine many different types of transportation — from ride-hailing to logistics,” explains the company in a blog post.
Photos provided by Waymo