Autonomous Vehicles

Waymo's back to testing self-driving semis in Arizona

The tests will start in the Phoenix area and expand from there.

Waymo's self-driving semi trucks are back on the roads of Arizona.

Waymo

Waymo's self-driving minivans get a lot of hype these days, and rightfully so. Its program represents the closest that a developer has come to having a truly autonomous vehicle that's ready for the public, but did you know that Waymo isn't just interested in shuttling people around, it wants to move bigger things too?

Yep, that's right. Waymo has had a long-term heavy-truck testing program, and the company announced Wednesday via Twitter that this program would be coming back to the Phoenix metropolitan area -- aka the epicenter of self-driving vehicle testing -- after a period of absence.

"Since we started our trucking program in 2017, we've tested our self-driving trucks in a diverse set of locations including the Bay Area, Atlanta, Georgia and in Arizona, to ensure we're getting experience in all different types of driving environments," a Waymo representative told Roadshow. "When we tested in Arizona before back in 2017, it was early days and we were just looking to gather some initial information about driving our trucks in the region. Now we're back to continue that learning at a more advanced stage in our development."

The trucks will be making their comeback starting this week, with a focus on testing on Phoenix's highways and freeways. Why Arizona rather than some other, different locale? Laws, mostly. Arizona's laws for the testing of autonomous vehicles are incredibly developer-friendly, which along with its weather makes it an ideal testing locale.

Now playing: Watch this: A ride on public streets in Waymo One
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Originally published May 29.
Update, May 31: Adds comment from Waymo.