Science fiction is coming to fruition as self-driving car company Waymo prepares to deploy autonomous trucks at Google’s ground operations in Atlanta. The trucks will be integrated into Google’s transportation network, carrying cargo from factories to distribution centers, ports and terminals – the hub setting providing an ideal environment to test the technology’s practicality.
Waymo began testing its self-driving technology last year in California and Arizona, which it has been developing since 2009.
As we witness the actualization of self-driving technology, many are wondering if this technology is a solution to the driver shortage the industry desperately needs. For now, autonomous trucks are best utilized for inter-hub trucking, like this foray in Atlanta. Using autonomous trucks for more predictable inter-hub use allows carriers to use human drivers for more complex last-mile routes.
Waymo isn’t the only company debuting self-driving technology. In the eight years since its conception, the company has been neck-and-neck with other U.S.-based start-ups, like Convoy and Embark, that are engaged in their own developments and trial phases.
Last year, Waymo was caught up in a lawsuit with its competitor, Uber Freight – a trucking dispatch service offered by the ride-sharing company, in which Uber agreed not to use any of the company’s intellectual property and was forced to pay $245 million to Waymo.
The space for a dominating player is still to be won, but regardless, the technology is here.