To test its real endurance and susceptibility Google , brought its Autonomous Trucks out to the road, to give it a test ride. Waymo, Google’s autonomous vehicle division, confirmed that it’s developing self-driving long-haul trucks earlier this month. Now we know what they look like.
The truck itself appears to be a Peterbilt 579, most likely equipped with an automatic transmission, because why should Waymo make more work for themselves.
The independent equipment appears to be primarily stacked upon a roof rack, which houses what seems to be a central LIDAR dome and four ultrasonic sensors, two at each side, covering front and rear. A radar emitter appears to be mounted low and center on the front bumper.
There are chances that, there would be additional sensors placed towards the sides and the rear portion of the truck.
Long-haul trucking is a likely and obvious place for autonomous vehicles to take hold before they become common as passenger vehicles. The fact that the vehicles tend to be fleet owned, centrally monitored, and used for long highway stretches makes them ideal early adopters.
While many speculate this will cause a lot of job loss for truckers, I suspect there will remain a need to have a human ‘minder’ in the truck to act as a backup and to handle communications, security, refueling, and other duties, at least initially.