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Alphabet’s Waymo begins testing self-driving trucks

Alphabet’s Waymo begins testing self-driving trucks

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Photo by Sean O’Kane / The Verge

Anything Uber can do, Waymo — Alphabet's self-driving car company that was spun off from Google — can apparently do, too. BuzzFeed News reports that Waymo is testing its own autonomous truck technology, a year after Uber purchased trucking startup Otto and kicked off its own self-driving semi venture.

BuzzFeed says it first spotted Waymo's self-driving truck in a photo, before confirming the project with the company. A Waymo spokesperson explained the company's efforts, saying that it was "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." Safety was the focus of the expansion into the sector, the spokesperson said, with the aim of reducing the "thousands of trucking-related deaths each year."

It's only testing one truck so far

Waymo and Uber have rapidly become fierce rivals, but the Google spinoff isn't as far along in the self-driving truck sphere as the ride-sharing firm. Waymo confirmed that it was only testing one vehicle at the moment, and that it was still manually driving it on a public road in order to collect data. Uber, on the other hand, delivered its first shipment in a self-driving freight vehicle last August, a short time after it bought Otto. The company's had its problems with the project — the vehicles were accused of breaking California driving laws — but it has also had more time to test and plan for its own network of automated delivery vehicles.