Waymo’s Path To Robot Truck Business Means Mastering Wind, Flares And Pedestrians On The Highway

Waymo Company, Alphabet Inc. Independent driving, it is unclear how semis controlled by its technology will transport goods – except for drivers – across the US, but it has a detailed list of challenges to understand first, from strong winds and smooth roads, to pedestrians stranding on the highway and finding robotic trucks to use. how safety fires where they should pass.
The company’s robotaxis has been attracting paying passengers to suburban Phoenix over the past few years and has just received approval from the California Motor Vehicle Department to charge passengers most needed for electric Jaguar crossovers in San Francisco and San Mateo County. But the launch of commercial trucks with its Waymo Via unit is probably a few years old, due to deceptive rules over technical challenges, according to party leaders.

“At the level of government there are very different needs that are really documented by people driving trucks today. For example, setting fire to emergency vehicles on the road while being pulled on the shoulder, ”said Charlie Jatt, head of the trucking business. He wondered how that would be resolved but agreed that there would probably be no “robot cannon that emits flares.”

Waymo remains a de facto leader in self-driving car development, with the world’s most mature program going back to 2009 and at least $ 5.75 billion in new funding since last year. But while many competitors point to specific applications for private trucks, urban delivery, robotaxis and personal vehicles, the company is committed to participating in all those markets. Trucks are attractive as the U.S. industry It generates about $ 800 billion a year and, more importantly, suffers from a shortage of drivers on long-distance roads that affects many provinces, according to the American Trucking Association.

Waymo rides with companies including TuSimple, Aurora, Embark and Kodiak in the truck space and expands its operations in that space in partnership with Daimler Trucks to make special vehicles that will be used independently, with improved electrical infrastructure and unnecessary brakes and elements. Its spacecraft has grown from a handful of trucks last year to about 50 vehicles equipped with laser lidar sensors to detect objects in all light conditions, radar, cameras and computer systems.

“Perhaps we are thinking of what the world can throw at you at a high level on the fringe of paranoia.”
Boris Sofman, Executive Director of Waymo Engineering

“We have a large number of (trucks) coming online all this quarter and we are going to the next half of the year,” said Boris Sofman, Waymo’s senior director of engineering and head of trucking and visibility. “After that we will expand again next year, especially as we start to have more Daimler trucks through our partnership.”
In August Waymo announced plans for a state-of-the-art technology depot near Dallas that will be its laboratory for designing the types of future trucks that are part of its long-term plans. The company believes that the quickest way to get robotic trucks to work is to stop them from driving too high on highways and then move on to deliver cargo on highways near transit points, avoiding busy urban roads.

“It will probably be decades of work to solve the common problem of driving everywhere in all situations in all countries,” Sofman said. That’s why Waymo is focused on building transit points for private trucks. “From a business perspective it makes a lot of sense to think which way of least resistance opens up the market and builds the largest possible value.”
TuSimple plans to start operating its own private trucks by 2024, with Aurora hoping to sell its system by 2023. Waymo may have had a similar experience, but it hasn’t announced an official goal. Unlike TuSimple, which plans to use its own network of trucks, Waymo is developing its own technology that will be used by truck manufacturers and trucking companies and will charge future subscribers for “its driver as a service,” said Jatt.

While highways are often easier to drive than city streets, 80,000-pound fully loaded semis face major challenges from slippery, foggy and high winds. “The air usually changes to control the movement of the truck. Even professional drivers, depending on the load they are carrying and repairing, have to hold their breath in different ways, ”said truck product manager Shai Ben Nun. And while making software to handle difficult weather conditions is a challenge, and it has to be prepared for unexpected obstacles.
“One of the examples I can give you is a pedestrian walking down a freeway at night, fully dressed in black, just walking toward us. We always see this as good, ”said Ben Nun. “There’s no way the (human) truck driver can see that fast enough, but we also can, especially before a human driver.”

And that’s the kind of seemingly unexpected situation that Waymo is preparing for us. “We’re probably thinking about what the world can throw at us with the level of research that is on the threshold of paranoia,” Sofman said.