Amid the tussle with Uber on the theft of its self-driving car technology, Google’s Waymo has started testing its own autonomous truck. According to a report in BuzzFeed, Waymo’s self-driving truck was spotted in a photo and the development was later confirmed by the company.
A spokesperson from Waymo — Google’s self-driving car arm — said that it took “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 “thousands of trucking-related deaths each year”.
Waymo confirmed that it was only testing one vehicle at the moment and it was still manually driving it on a public road in order to collect data. Its rival Uber has already delivered its first shipment in a self-driving freight vehicle last August — a short time after it bought trucking startup Otto for $680 million.
Waymo and Uber became fierce rivals when the former sued and filed a lawsuit against the latter for allegedly stealing trade secrets and self-driving technology from it.The lawsuit argued that former Waymo manager Anthony Levandowski took information when he left the company and later co-founded Otto in January 2016.Earlier this week, Uber fired Levandowski for allegedly stealing some 14,000 documents from Waymo.