The Waymo Self-Driving Semi is on the Road

Alphabet’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) autonomous vehicle subsidiary Waymo has unveiled a self-driving semi-tractor.

At least two of the autonomous big rigs are supposed to be making deliveries to Google data centers in the Atlanta area, a March 9 post on Waymo’s Medium feed indicates. The post did not say what the trucks were hauling to the Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL) data centers.

“Starting next week, Waymo will launch a pilot in Atlanta where our self-driving trucks will carry freight bound for Google’s data centers,” Waymo announced. The vehicles used are diesel-powered semi-tractors from PACCAR (NYSE: PCAR) subsidiary Peterbilt.

News stories did not say whether PACCAR is participating in the experiment, although it probably is. PACCAR manufactures trucks sold under the Kenworth, Leyland Trucks, DAF, and Peterbilt brand names.

Waymo has been operating a fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans in Phoenix for some time. Waymo, Avis-Budget Group (NYSE: CAR), and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE: FCAU) are using the vans in a ridesharing experiment.

One wonders what the public reaction to this experiment will be. Waymo’s Medium blog shows the trucks operating on a freeway, possibly an Interstate.

The Tesla Semi is on the Road Too

Tesla’s electric-powered semi-tractor is also on the road, making runs from the Gigafactory 1 in Storey County, Nevada to Freemont, California.

The trucks are apparently delivering batteries and other components to Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TESLA) factory in Freemont, an Oakland suburb. Since the distance between the two facilities is 258.2 miles, a regular freight run is quite a feat. The run is a major test of electric tucks because involves a trip over the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and a lot of freeway driving.

The semis which have a range of around 125 miles on a charge have been spotted at the Rocklin supercharger near Sacramento, Eletrek reported. Video of the Semis on the road and highway has been posted on YouTube.

Mercedes Unveils Electric Truck

Not to be outdone, Daimler AG (OTC: DDAIF) has unveiled an electric-powered heavy-duty truck that can haul 25 tons up to 125 miles.

The Mercedes-Benz eActros has two electric motors with a potential output of 250 kilowatts (KW) and two battery packs with a capacity of up to 240-kilowatt hours (kWh), Electrek reported. The eActros is available in 18 ton and 25-ton capacity models.

The purpose of the eActros is urban delivery although it can easily be adapted for other uses such as firetrucks and garbage collection. Demand for eActros might be high because many cities around the world are considering bans on diesel-powered vehicles.

German cities won the right to ban polluting vehicles from their streets in a 27 February court decision. Diesel bans are under consideration in the UK, Mexico City, Athens, Paris, and other high pollution areas around the world. Mercedes’ timing appears to be really good here.

It looks as if our roads are about to be filled with all sorts of new cargo haulers. One has to wonder how the public will react to this development.

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