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Waymo will battle Uber with its own self-driving trucks

Google calls it a "technical exploration" to improve safety.
Steve Dent, @stevetdent
June 2, 2017
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Google was one of the first companies to show off self-driving car tech, but it's pretty late into the autonomous truck game. Well after companies like Daimler, Komatsu and Uber unveiled their own platforms, Waymo has started testing a single truck on public roads, it told Buzzfeed and Reuters. "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," it said in a statement.

The work is preliminary at the moment, as Waymo referred to it as "a technical exploration into how our technology can integrate into a truck." Others, meanwhile, are into more advanced testing -- Daimler, Volvo and others participated in an advanced autonomous "platooning" convoy challenge, for instance.

However, it may be arch-rival Uber that most motivated Waymo. The two companies are locked in pitched court battle, with Waymo having sued Uber for allegedly stealing some of its self-driving ideas. Uber's tech comes via its purchase of Otto, a self-driving company founded by Anthony Levandowski, one of Google's key self-driving executives. Earlier this week Uber fired Levandowski, shortly after federal prosecutors recommended an investigation into the alleged IP theft.

Despite all the problems, however, Uber has a lead over Waymo in the self-driving truck game, having done a 200-mile beer run in Colorado with no driver intervention. It also arguably has a big head start in logistics, having already developed an extensive ride-sharing network for its Uber passenger service.

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