Waymo is moving forward with more than robotaxis. The startup which receives backing from Alphabet has been loud about a new research and development facility opening. It’s going to have a concentration on autonomous trucking, as that becomes a more marketable facet of logistics.
This is an interesting move as Waymo has also a partnership with the Transportation Research Center Inc. (TRC) with the intention to co-develop a custom testing environment for self-driving hardware and software capabilities. In a statement, they made note how the Waymo Driver Autonomous program will traverse through multiple vehicle platforms. Examples include the all-electric Jaguar I-PACE and the Class 8 trucks.
TRC in the interim is known as the ultimate indie vehicle test facility. So you can see why Waymo would want to try out their autonomous trucks there. It’s essentially an agreement to test how legitimate long-haul trucking can be without anyone driving.
This could be a great thing or a risky investment for Waymo…
It’s a good time to test out the ideas of autonomous driving, if it means exposing less truckers to COVID-19. But besides the time spent having to learn the ropes, one may also need to consider that there’s total importance in how trustworthy and foolproof the technology will be. Can and should these trucks be able to stop on a dime? Will there also be autonomy built-in to the trailers? How far will the truck have to drive before any remote controller is way too out of range to reach it well? All this and more is worth a worry, surely.
Waymo made self-driving taxis and damn it all if they can’t make trucks as cool. When partnering with OEMs, Waymo will provide mapping and remote assistance as well. New types of environments and weather conditions will also be explored at TRC’s testing site.