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Waymo's Autonomous Cars and Trucks Spotted Testing On Roads

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【Summary】Waymo is recently spotted testing self-driving trucks on road, meanwhile, it's taking its autonomous minivan to the desert.

Original Claire    Jun 28, 2017 12:57 PM PT
Waymo's Autonomous Cars and Trucks Spotted Testing On Roads

For the fierce competition in self-driving car technology, Google's Waymo is undoubtedly the top notch. With over 2 million miles of testing range, its fleet have been driving on the streets of California for years.

Earlier, the self-driving car project has already undergone testing in winter weather to ensure its technology can still operate in cold climates. Now it's taking on the heat challenge: to take its new Chrysler Pacificas on the road for a test trip in the desert, to see it whether it can stand extremely high temperatures.

Waymo posted a picture on Twitter today, saying it is heading for Las Vegas and Death Valley:

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Death Valley is known to be one of the hottest places in the world, with temperature high enough to even melt tires. The current daily temperature in the local area is around 115 degrees Fahrenheit, which can have an unpredictable impact on the car's sensing equipment. Waymo wants to test its autonomous tech in all kinds of conditions to see if the sensors and computational equipment can still function as normal.

On the other hand, Jalopnik quoted an anonymous source who sent pictures of Google Waymo's autonomous long haul truck testing on public roads. Earlier this month, the self-driving company confirmed that it's developing long haul autonomous trucks, without releasing any official photos yet.

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Judging from the pictures, the truck seems to be a Peterbilt 579 with LiDAR and four ultrasonic sensors on the roof. Additionally, there's radar installed on the front bumper. It's highly possible that there are additional sensors on the sides and rear of the truck.

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Waymo's move to self-driving truck testing is seen by many to directly challenge Uber, who hired ex-google engineer Anthony Levandowski, the founder of self-driving trucking company Otto, which Uber purchased in 2016 for a reported $680 million. Levandowski was accused by Waymo of stealing confidential documents from his former employer to serve Uber's self-driving needs. The lawsuit between the two tech companies is still proceeding in court.

Waymo recently built up new partnership with Uber's ride-hailing competitor Lyft and rental car company Avis, to further push forward its autonomous driving technology.



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