With the way tests have been going, it’s basically only a matter of time before we’ll see autonomous cars on our streets as a part of an everyday picture. Some have already started public trials, and are now looking for a new goal to achieve. One of those new ideas that have already drawn the attention of the biggest tech giants like Waymo and Uber, is the outfitting trucks with self-driving technology.
Uber has even found its autonomous truck venture, Otto, and has conducted several trials within the US. It would seem that Waymo is advancing as well after it’s been spotted conducting their own self-driving truck tests.
Waymo’s spokesperson confirmed this, and they even gave up some of the details related to the project. What’s known for now is that Waymo is testing only one vehicle, and even that one isn’t autonomous yet. The first thing that needs to be done is to drive the truck on the public roads and collect as much data about the process as possible. Waymo may be close to perfecting autonomous cars, but the difference between the build of a car and that of a truck is massive, and no detail can be ignored. The system that’s going to drive trucks like these someday needs to be well aware of its dimensions, power, and all the other aspects of a truck.
Waymo’s spokesperson was also willing to say that the autonomous technology can transport people in a much safer manner than a human can. Thousands of truck-related deaths will be prevented once this tech kicks off, thanks to eight years of building and preparing both hardware and software for this task. Not to mention technical exploration, data collecting, and so on.
On the other hand, there’s Uber that already has a sketch of their plan to redefine trucks, as well as an entire trucking business. They’re starting with Otto, a startup worth $680 million that Uber already acquired last year. The only problem is that this very company is in the middle of a lawsuit battle with Waymo itself. Waymo has sued the company because of Anthony Levandowski, Otto’s co-founder, who allegedly stole a lot of Waymo’s confidential info.
According to Waymo, 9.7GB worth of data, or 14,000 files ended up being stolen by Levandowski. Since he disobeyed the Judge’s order, as well as Uber’s very own request to return the stolen data, Levandowski has been removed from the company.
Despite the fact that Uber isn’t exactly adding autonomous trucks to their taxi service, they’ve still launched an app for the smartphone, called Uber Freight. The app is supposed to remove the middlemen and make the process of booking easier for the drivers, at least in the US.
So far, it would seem that their plans to introduce self-driving trucks are coming along nicely. In fact, they already made the first delivery. It was a delivery of around 50,000 Budweiser cans, that were delivered to Colorado Springs by an 18-wheeler truck that started its journey in Loveland, Colorado. The truck made the delivery autonomously, and it was moving at around 55mph. The delivery was made without any problems, but a state trooper was still following the truck the entire way, just for the purpose of monitoring its progress and behavior on the road. Despite the successful delivery, Uber still isn’t ready to release the tech, at least for now.