Waymo Launching Self-Driving Trucks in Atlanta

Waymo CEO John Krafcik whose firm is competing with rival Uber in development of self-driving vehicles

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

Waymo, a sibling company of Google, said on Friday that it will start a self-driving truck pilot program in Atlanta to service Google's data centers. The trucks will not be completely alone because there will be highly trained drivers in the cabs, just in case anything goes wrong. In the pilot, Waymo will integrate its technology into the operations of shippers and carriers with their network of factories, distribution centres, ports and terminals.

Waymo, which shares a parent company-Alphabet-with Google, has already been testing its self-driving trucks in California and Arizona for the past year. However, the company said in a blog post today that its truck project had a head start thanks to its existing self-driving technology, which Waymo said is "not only experienced, but adaptable".

"Things like braking, turning, and blind spots are different with a fully-loaded truck and trailer", Waymo writes. The other three companies we've mentioned-Uber, Starsky, and Embark-have all focused on freeway driving, which is generally considered the easiest type of driving to automate.

More news: Trump tariffs exempt Canada and Mexico

In January, The National reported that Sharjah-based Bee'ah, the region's fastest-growing environmental management company, will buy 50 Tesla Semi heavy duty electric trucks - the first and largest fleet of the newly unveiled vehicle in the Middle East - the company said at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.

The race is heating up to remove the driver and get autonomous freight trucks on the road. According to the American Trucking Associations, trucking revenues were $676.2 billion in 2016, while trucks moved more than 10.4 billion tons of freight. A Waymo spokeswoman declined to say how many trucks will be tested.

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

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