Waymo hits the road with its own self-driving truck project

waymo self driving truck
Waymo has revealed that it’s developing a self-driving truck. The Alphabet-owned company — formerly operated by Google — said it’s looking at ways of incorporating into trucks the self-driving car technology it has been working on since 2009.

Commenting to BuzzFeed about the new venture, a Waymo spokesperson said: “Self-driving technology can transport people and things much more safely than we do today and reduce the thousands of trucking-related deaths each year.

“We’re taking our eight years of experience in building self-driving hardware and software and conducting a technical exploration into how our technology can integrate into a truck.”

The company confirmed it currently has one truck on the road, though at the current time it’s being driven manually for the purposes of collecting performance data.

Self-driving delivery trucks?

Interestingly, a Google patent that surfaced in early 2016 revealed how it might one day use its self-driving technology for delivery trucks. The documents described a truck with a large number of storage lockers containing ordered items destined for customers. The autonomous delivery vehicle would automatically send an alert to a customer as it nears their home. Once it arrives, the customer can take their package by swiping a payment card or entering an access code.

While any such neighborhood delivery service is clearly a long way down the road, Waymo’s revelation that it’s now working on incorporating its technology into much larger vehicles certainly brings the possibility of a self-driving delivery truck a step closer.

Before now, the likelihood was that the technology would first be used to help human drivers operate their vehicles more safely, before more advanced technology enabled driverless trucks to make long-distance trips delivering commercial goods.

Uber and Otto

Waymo’s new project puts it in direct competition with Uber, which besides investing in its own self-driving car project is also backing the development of an autonomous truck after it acquired Otto in 2016 for $680 million. Interestingly, Otto was founded in early 2016 by two former Google employees, one of whom worked on Google’s self-driving project and who is now at the center of a Waymo lawsuit targeting Uber.

The lawsuit accuses Anthony Levandowski — who incidentally was fired by Uber on Tuesday, May 30 — of  stealing confidential files related to Waymo’s self-driving technology and using the information to launch Otto. Levandowski denies any wrongdoing while Uber insists it’s not using driverless car technology stolen from Google.


Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Emerging Tech

Robot janitors will soon be scrubbing the floors at your local Walmart

Hundreds of robot janitors will soon be working at Walmart stores across the U.S. The company says the autonomous floor scrubbers will free its human staff from monotonous tasks so they can spend more time helping customers.

Uber is about to restart self-driving car tests but on a reduced scale

Uber is reported to be on the verge of restarting its autonomous-car test program. The company halted it in March 2018 following a fatal accident involving one of its vehicles, but its cars could be back on the road within weeks.

Waymo becomes the first company to charge for rides in self-driving cars

Waymo has launched a commercial ridesharing service using self-driving cars in the Phoenix area. It's the first U.S. company to generate revenue by putting passengers in autonomous cars. Waymo One is only available to a select group of…

Volkswagen may be planning a tougher challenge for its all-electric I.D. R

The Volkswagen I.D. R electric race car may head to the Nürburgring in 2019 for a lap-record attempt, according to a new report. Volkswagen will reportedly aim to set the quickest lap time ever by an electric car.

600-hp, $155K Polestar 1 is the alluring Volvo coupe you’ve been waiting for

Volvo's return to the coupe segment just took an interesting turn: the model will join the Polestar lineup, and it will get a 600-hp plug-in hybrid powertrain. The Polestar 1 will be built in China starting in 2019.

Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Your car and your smartphone are becoming one, yet smartphones branded or co-created by car companies are a problem. We look at the history, some examples of the best and worst, then share hopes for the future.

The Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake is the sexiest wagon ever

Aston Martin has revealed new photos of the limited-production Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake. The Vanquish Zagato line now includes the Shooting Brake, Coupe, Volante, and Speedster, each with bespoke styling.

Nissan and Italdesign’s GT-R50 concept will become a $1.1 million reality

The Nissan GT-R50 is a customized sports car built to celebrate the 50th anniversaries of both the GT-R and design firm Italdesign. Underneath the sleek bodywork sits a 710-horsepower engine fortified with race car components.

Ford’s new Shelby GT500 Mustang will have 3D-printed brake parts

Ford's new $45 million Advanced Manufacturing Center will focus on emerging technologies, including 3D printing. One of the staff's first jobs is to print parts for the 700-horsepower Shelby GT500 Mustang.
Product Review

Audi built an electric SUV for buyers who want gasoline-free to mean stress-free

We finally got to spend time behind the wheel of the electric 2019 Audi E-Tron bustling cities and arid desert of the United Arab Emirates to see how it compares with Jaguar and Tesla's competitors.

World’s fastest electric race car to display at Petersen Museum

The Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak race car smashed the all-time record at the hill climb for which it was named. The all-electric VW record-holder will be on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles until February 1, 2019.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

This freewheeling Army truck-turned-tiny home is a labor of love

Most tiny homes are models of efficiency but one British metal worker has redefined the idea, converting an old Army truck into a mobile tiny home that comes with a bed, a sofa, a shower, and a beer garden.