Waymo into Self Driving trucks

Waymo has been considered as the Godfather of Self Driving cars. Since 2009, Waymo is being developed in the Google labs with software and sensors and is here to make a big change in the transportation industry. Already in the progress for launching their driver-less cars, Waymo has now marked their footprints in driver-less trucks.

First images of Waymo’s driver-less truck is out by Jalopnik. They have trucks equipped with radars, lidar and ultrasonic radars. According to Waymo they want to explore new context of driver-less trucks. Owing to the large percentage of accidents that happen yearly due to truck mishaps, Waymo wants that transportation of people and things from one spot to another is done rather carefully and securely.

waymo driverless truck

According to reports, the number of truck drivers has been constantly declining. By the year 2024 it can get decrease to a mere number of 1,75,000 drivers! Waymo has even clearly mentioned that automated trucks are not here to replace truck drivers but only to optimize the way they are used. They plan to handle the monotonous long routes by the automated technology in the driver-less trucks and use human expertise on surface streets where a single mistake can lead to haphazard results.

Waymo has been tackling out their detailing on one of the private trucks in California lately. Major questions like where to manage the sensors on 53-foot trailers, or how to apply brakes and accelerators to limit the speed in a truck, all such scenarios have been answered and tested out by them. The process has been long initiated and Waymo is therefore planning to role out trial ride on the roads of Arizona later this year. Waymo has always been in the business for carrying out fully automated driver-less cars. But with automated trucks that is not the case. The size of truck determines that it is not possible without human intervention to drive through narrow streets, initially. This will be a good challenge for Waymo to develop something like this.

This is taking a huge turn but Uber and Tesla are all ready to take their foot out which actually compelled Waymo to take this step!

It will be interesting to see where does Waymo land with its driver-less trucks!

UBER’s Driverless truck enters Guinness record, by delivering a ton of beer

Loaded with 51,744 Budweiser beer cans, Otto, driver-less truck made a 132 mile long journey as part of its trial run. It has been recorded as one of the longest journey by a driver-less truck and is therefore awarded the Guinness World Record for the same.

Otto, founded by Anthony Levandowski and acquired by Uber, launched its driver-less trucks in the year 2016 on trial basis. It carried Budweiser beer cans on the truck and drove it to Colorado Springs from Fort Collins. On the record it has been proved that the truck drove almost 131.99  miles which is the longest distance traveled by an autonomous truck, so far.

As seen in the video, The driver-less truck did have Mr. Walter Martin, a driver by profession, where he closely monitored it now and then, but never took the wheel. He was being monitored by a connected camera where he was seen reading in the back seat and meanwhile monitoring from there.

 

James Sembrot, Senior director, logistic strategy at Budweiser was excited to be a part of this development. He said, “Budweiser is one of the largest brewers in the United States, we ship over 1.2 million truck loads each year. We’re always looking for new innovation and technology. OTTO’s trucks are the next area of innovation in transportation technology”.

Recommended: Waymo training self driven cars to drive near Police Vehicles

Out of all the cities, the government of Colorado gave an edge by allowing them to drive and test their driver-less cars on their streets. The government had already set some regulating laws for carrying out the testing on the streets. The vehicles, therefore, need to take care of the laws and abide by them, until and unless that continues to happen they are free to test themselves.

Anthony stated that Otto’s technology was all about making the roads safer, “it’s like having a train on software rails”

Otto was acquired by Uber Advanced Technology Group, a separate division under UBER that specializes in working on driverless technologies, ATG later ran into legal trouble with google over Otto. Where Google, accused the founder of Otto who was a former Google employee for stealing trade secrets. Uber had no choice but to boot out, Anthony Levandowski.

Despite all the issues that Otto is surrounded with, this achievement would be a positive leap for Otto. Let’s see how soon driver-less trucks throng the roads!

Waymo training self driven cars to drive near Police Vehicles

Waymo driver less cars police

Driver-less cars is the new tech notion we can hear everyone murmuring around us, recently. Isn’t it? Taking a notch ahead Waymo, the self driving project by Google, has made its way by testing the cars during various situations.

The local government of Chandler city in Arizona, put a step forward and helped Waymo to create a space for testing out their cars. The journey wasn’t easy to try and test out driver-less cars for their purpose on roads but with the government’s help, they were able to close down a street for Waymo’s driver-less minivans to test. Waymo team taught the driver-less cars to react on the sound and the light of sirens of various emergency vehicles like Police vans, Fire trucks and Ambulances.

Waymo driver less cars police
image credit: Markettamer com

We all know, an important aspect of driving a car is spotting the emergency vehicle in vicinity and reacting in an ethical way. Similarly, with the help of artificial intelligence, driver-less cars are meant to be trained to park their vehicle on the sides of road, when they sense an ambulance passing by.

How is that done?

Driver-less cars identify sirens of various vehicles, with the help of the installed cameras and microphones on the car itself. All the vehicles are made to pass on the street past the car. The people will test it either by sitting in the car or by driving behind the car. The sound of the siren varies depending on whether the wind is blowing or not as the sound may vary accordingly. The tests are carried out on similar basis. This is not the only sufficient test, because driving in day time and at night time also plays an important role. So, the cars are also tested during night time to exit any possibility of trouble in that time of the day. The reactions and the way they learn depends a lot on artificial intelligence by feeding commands to which the cars react.

Why is this done?

This involves to take a lot of safety and security measures into consideration. Reacting on arrival of emergency vehicles is utmost important to a driver. Artificial Intelligence plays a big role in designing the scenario for instances like these: when a emergency vehicle passes by, when something comes in front of the car, how to park and many such instances. The car is prepared for all such scenarios.

Once this will be done, Waymo has planned to try this out in Phoenix city, Arizona for their first public trial under their self driving program “Waymo’s Early Riding Program”.

This could not have been done without the support from one of the cities to try and test before going live. Waymo needed a street exposure for itself to try it out. The local government of Chandler has proved their mettle by helping out the testing sessions and gaining all attention and limelight for the launch of driver-less cars!

Let’s see how long driver-less cars are going to make their mark!

What does the Google Waymo deal with AVIS Budget mean?

Driver less cars Waymo Avis

Ok, there are 3 parts to this story.

  1. AVIS Budget: One of the biggest Car Rental companies in the world with thousands of branches word wide.
  2. Google Waymo: Pioneer in developing Driver-less cars software and hardware. Been testing its technology on road for many years now & trying partnership with companies like UBER, LYFT etc. to bring its technology to the roads.
  3. Driver-Less Cars: The hot and happening trend across the globe ( or at-least in leading cities ). Nearly all research firms have unanimously agreed that this is going to be a multi-trillion dollar industry in the very near future.

WAYMO ( the self driving unit inside Google ), has been into Driver-less cars research for many many years. But in the recent years the tech giant seem to slip slightly behind TESLA in being the leader in this Self-Driving cars space. Thanks to the vertically integrated approach by TESLA, they are able to stand out in the Autonomous vehicle race ( as they own both the hardware & the software piece ). Being a car manufacturing company, TESLA was able to go ahead and integrate its Driver-less cars technology into its own cars without any process over-heads and complexities. This led to TESLA to quickly bring the commercial cars on the road with the technology built-in.

Now, its WAYMO’s move & they are doing what they have been doing good historically. ie. Make partnerships with leaders in the space to integrate its technology and hot the road running.

AVIS Budget as we all now does a fabulous job in its niche ie. Car Rentals & can easily be said as the leader in the industry. They have millions of vehicles under their belt serving millions of customers worldwide. With this deal, Waymo an easily get the much wanted advantage to take its Self-Driving technology to the roads in real-time.

Driver less cars Waymo Avis

As of now the deal allows Waymo to deploy its Driver-less cars for testing in Phoenix AVIS facilities. If this works out fine, they can roll it out in more AVIS locations. For AVIS Budget group, its a very important step, as it gives them an early foothold in the Driver-less car rental space ( which is obviously the future of Car Rentals ).

On Monday, Avis officially announced that it would provide the required ” Fleet support and maintenance services ” to the self-driving Waymo cars in the city of Phoenix. And much the amusement of the people in the city, Waymo is offering free rides 🙂

John Krafcik, the CEO of Waymo earlier said, “Avis Budget Group is an ideal partner to provide fleet support and maintenance. With thousands of locations around the world, Avis Budget Group can help us bring our technology to more people, in more places.“.

The entire Car Rental industry stocks have been going down steep on speculations about “What will happen to this industry once Driver-less cars comes into scene”. This new deal between Google Waymo & Avis Budget group has bought in positive sentiments & clarity to investors. Avis stock has raised a whooping 14% as a reaction to this partnership.

But still the big question remains. What will happen to the thousands of other small & medium Car rental businesses around the globe. Would they need to create partnerships with such giants to survive? Or is there an alternate solution coming up? Lets wait and see.