Self-driving cars continue to grow in popularity thanks to new breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI). However, most people don’t think about the fact that self-driving technology can be applied to more than just SUVs and Teslas. In fact, for the trucking and logistics industry, the implications are perhaps even more exciting than they are on the consumer side.
That’s why Google’s Waymo self-driving division is working hard to pioneer a fleet of autonomous semi-trucks. The firm already has several test vehicles up and running and will now expand its trial program to both New Mexico and Texas.
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Waymo’s expansion isn’t particularly surprising. The company has largely focused on the warm, dry desert climate of states like Arizona and California. Pushing its program into New Mexico and Texas is a logical step forward.
It says that the autonomous trucks will mainly travel on interstate routes and around big cities like El Paso, Dallas, and Houston. As of now, the trucks won’t be carrying any freight for delivery or working for clients. Waymo is simply testing the concept of self-driving semis to understand what needs to be improved.
With that being said, a safety driver will be behind the wheel at all times. While that hasn’t completely stopped accidents from happening in the past, it is a solid measure in place to mitigate the risk of putting autonomous big rigs on the road.
Waymo will reportedly map out the various routes it plans to test with its self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans before the trucks start rolling.
It’s worth noting that Texas has been very welcoming to autonomous vehicle tests in the past several years. Ford is currently testing its self-driving cars in Austin. Uber continues to work on its autonomous operations in Dallas. Meanwhile, Walmart is testing autonomous grocery delivery in Houston. Additionally, according to truck accident lawyers in Austin, safety and testing should remain a top priority as these technological endeavors continue in the state.
In the years to come, this head start could be a huge advantage for the state. By welcoming the innovation of self-driving vehicles, Texas will be seen as an early adopter. In turn, it will likely get priority access as companies start rolling their programs out to the public.
Driverless delivery is a hot topic in the logistic world. From companies like Walmart that want to deliver bags of fresh groceries to consumers’ doorstep to Waymo’s self-driving big rig initiative, there is a lot of momentum at the moment.
As far as trucking is concerned, lowering transportation prices is a huge factor. Estimates suggest that semi-trucks carry a whopping 70 percent of domestic freight. Of course, every mile costs companies money as human drivers sit behind the wheel. For companies like Waymo, Tesla, and even Uber, there are fortunes to be had in the realm of self-driving trucks.
While Waymo isn’t yet delivering goods, it likely isn’t too far away from hitting that milestone. When it proves that it can do so successfully, there will be an influx of cash waiting for it. Until then, these continued tests will ensure that the firm’s self-driving semis are safe and efficient.