Alphabet’s autonomous car company Waymo has revealed that it is currently exploring self-driving truck idea which thereby bringing the competition to Uber. A Waymo spokesperson told BuzzFeed that “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. We’re taking our eight years of experience in building self-driving hardware and software and conducting a technical exploration into how our technology can integrate into a truck.”
The person who spoke to BuzzFeed however confirmed that it’s just one truck that it currently being tested but didn’t specify whether there are plans to involve more trucks in the test.
Google’s self-driving car project began in 2009 but only announced late last year that the project would be called Waymo and will be an independent unit under the Alphabet umbrella.
Uber on the hand acquired Otto (a startup with interests in self-driving truck technologies) for a reported $700m and has since carried out a live test where a truck successfully delivered 2,000 cases of Budweiser beer from Fort Collins, Colo., to Colorado Springs, a roughly 120-mile trip on Interstate 25.
Uber launched Uber Freight to connect truck drivers to shippers last month even though it’s looking at expanding its self-driving truck portfolio which is an irony because even as it recognises that its technology will kill jobs, it also wants to be a long term partner with workers in the sector it hopes to automate one day. Experts though think that the haulage business will very much need human involvement considering the long distance and other logistics involved and so Uber wants to benefit from both sides no matter which one comes out on top.
There are other startups looking to explore this technology in a market that is supposedly valued at over $700b.