This week Google revealed that it is the latest company to join in the self-driving truck technology race, testing out its autonomous vehicle technology on a single class 8 truck at an undisclosed location in California.
Google Roadtesting Autonomous Truck Tech in California
The testing is being performed by Google’s autonomous vehicle technology offshoot Waymo, which until now has focused on driverless passenger vehicles. Waymo says that it is conducting tests with a Peterbilt and that a truck driver will be in the cab of the truck at all times. The testing has already taken place at a Google-owned private location in California and it is scheduled to continue later in 2017 in Arizona, though the company has declined to divulge specifics.
Waymo called the road tests a “technical exploration” into applying their existing autonomous vehicle technology into heavy duty trucks. Their long-term plans for establishing themselves in the trucking industry remain unclear.
Otto Founder Fired After Google Files Suit for Theft of Trade Secrets
Google’s announcement about its entry into the self-driving truck tech market comes the same week that Uber fired former Google employee and Otto founder Anthony Levandowski. Uber acquired Otto in 2016 for $680 million but has since dropped the Otto moniker due to a trademark infringement suit. Waymo filed a lawsuit against Uber and Otto, claiming that Levandowski stole trade secrets. Levandowski was fired this week due to his refusal to cooperate in the investigation into claims that he stole self-driving technology from Google.