Waymo is expanding its self-driving big-rig tests to Atlanta. More accurately, Alphabet's autonomous mobility division is kicking off a pilot program in Georgia's capital city where its semi trucks will carry loads headed for Google's data centers.
In an announcement post on Medium, Waymo revealed it's chosen Atlanta because it's a huge logistics hub, "making it a natural home for Google's logistical operations and the perfect environment for our next phase of testing Waymo's self-driving trucks."
The new project, which will be developed in partnership with Google's logistics operations, will look into the ways self-driving trucks can integrate with distribution networks and shippers, including factories, ports and terminals.
Commercial trucking is seen as one of the biggest areas of opportunity for self-driving technology. That's not only because of the potential for improved safety, efficiency and lowered running costs, but also because the over-the-road trucking industry has been suffering through a years-long shortage of drivers.
As with its existing testing of self-driving tractor trailers in Arizona and California, Waymo is promising that all self-driving trucks operating out of Atlanta will have specially trained backup human drivers in the cabs for both safety and systems monitoring. The trucks will leverage the same suite of self-driving hardware and software that the company has been developing its fleet of autonomousminivans.
Waymo's Atlanta pilot hits the road next week.