Waymo Via: Designing for an Autonomous Trucking Future, Inside and Out

Aerodynamics, sensor placement, and sleek design are just a few areas Waymo explored when creating the industry's first custom, comprehensive commercial solution – from hardware to design –  for autonomous trucking. Waymo’s world-class design team partners closely with their engineering teams to craft an autonomous driving solution that’s not only functional, but easily integrates the Waymo Via brand with its logistics partners respective brands. With this new look, Waymo Via is maturing its design to match its experience.

Waymo is engineering the most robust platform to date for autonomous trucking operations —the Freightliner® Cascadia® trucks built by Daimler Truck North America and powered by the Waymo Driver™. Waymo’s engineers recently lifted the curtain on the hardware that powers it, combining advanced lidar, cameras and radar that can help detect objects in a range of weather conditions—night and day, rain or shine—up to a kilometer away. These will be the autonomous industry’s leading redundant Class 8 trucks.

For all of Waymo’s solutions, it starts with the Waymo Driver technology. The Waymo Driver can operate across multiple geographies, vehicle types, and use cases—whether it’s hauling freight for J. B. Hunt and UPS in Texas or ferrying Waymo One riders in Arizona and California. The Waymo Driver benefits from 12 years of experience driving passenger vehicles - longer than any other autonomous driving technology.

However, there are challenges specific to operating a commercial truck that Waymo Via had to account for. For example, there are no truck platforms commercially available today with the redundant systems needed to safely operate a fully autonomous service. Building an autonomous trucking solution that fleets and shippers can trust means adding backup steering, braking and power systems to the vehicle platform to ensure reliable operations. In fact, Waymo Via identified over 1,500 new requirements for building out a leading redundant commercial trucking solution including:

  • Added layers of electronic redundancy to ensure there are backups for core systems like braking when driving in autonomous mode
  • Additional fail-safe steering systems help the autonomous driver navigate to a safe stopping position in case of any problems
  • A low-voltage power net ensures constant energy flow to important on-board systems in the event of a power failure

… and hundreds more. These and other redundancies will help the Waymo Driver deal with the real-world dynamism of driving heavy loads long distances in a wide range of situations.

Class 8 trucks also operate and maneuver very differently compared to passenger vehicles, and the Waymo Driver is designed to handle these challenges:

  • Waymo has designed its perimeter lidar to see over 300 meters away and with high resolution—including directly around the cab—to spot nearby objects in incredible detail, even when driving at high speeds
  • The Waymo Driver’s sensors can see up to a kilometer away in a range of conditions—a key feature when traveling at highway speeds with literal tons of freight to haul
  • Waymo has even developed an automated sensor cleaning system to combat issues caused by dust, grime, bug splats or rain so its trucks can drive hundreds of miles without stopping for cleaning

Waymo Via is combining its technical expertise, safety first culture, and relationships with industry leaders to help the logistics industry move goods safely and efficiently. To find out more, check out Waymo’s blog and Daimler Truck North America’s vehicle overview.


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