A Class Of Its Own

Waymo: Versatility key to autonomous vehicle strategy

“When you assume about freeways, you need to fix that for journey-hailing,” said Shai Ben Nun, right until a short while ago a system manager for Waymo Via, the firm’s trucking and shipping and delivery division. “That has really paved the way.”

You can find been crossover in some apparent regions these types of as building long-variety sensing functionality, and in some not-so-noticeable regions: As Waymo well prepared its robotaxis to manage hills in San Francisco, it borrowed what it discovered about climbing steep grades from self-driving truck testing performed all through the Southwest.

It’s a great example of what Ludwick describes as “unlocking abilities” vs. imagining in terms of unique geographies or car platforms.

“The target is to be as surgical as attainable, with smaller tweaks here and there,” he claimed. “That is the philosophy that lets you go as rapidly as doable for the complete software.”

Not everybody agrees with that philosophy. Most firms in the self-driving truck room concentrate on trucking programs and do not imagine a self-driving technique can be made use of for this sort of diversified platforms as Course 8 vans and minivans.

“We have robotaxi players that have taken the driver out, and in concept, you need to be ready to do that rather quickly on the trucking facet if you are pushing the tale that it can be transferable,” mentioned Cheng Lu, CEO of self-driving truck enterprise TuSimple. “I imagine that could be a quite uncomplicated litmus check.”

Although Waymo is acquiring cars and vans concurrently, it did not start off its trucking efforts in earnest till 2017, and the company states it intends to go on its concentration on robotaxis for now. There is not however a timetable for Waymo deploying vans in professional operation with no human backups aboard.

Aurora, a competitor doing the job on both of those vans and minivans, intends to concentrate on vans very first and start business service in late 2023.

For now, Waymo is functioning with companions these types of as UPS Inc., J.B. Hunt and C.H. Robinson to prepare for self-driving functions.