Waymo's self-driving trucks are making a return to Arizona.
The company's self-driving, Class 8, big-rig trucks haven’t been in the state for more than a year, though they were first tested in Arizona in August 2017. That initial project was stopped later on that year. Now, the Alphabet-owned company is ready to launch a more advanced stage of testing in the program’s development.
Waymo explained that the testing will be conducted on freeways around the metro Phoenix area, and will expand over time, according to reports. The company added that it will be testing the trucks when they're empty or with freight, and that the trucks will have two trained drivers on hand to take over if needed.
There was no other information given, such as how many autonomous trucks are in the fleet, how many will be in Arizona or when the testing area will move outside of metro Phoenix.
Waymo does have some competition in Arizona: TuSimple runs an autonomous route (with safety drivers) between Tucson and Phoenix along Interstate 10. Earlier this year, it was reported that, for the first time, Waymo was looking for outside capital to boost its valuation past that of rival Cruise, the General Motors-owned autonomous vehicle business worth almost $15 billion. The investment could allow Alphabet to reveal Waymo’s valuation for the first time in years. The last time, Waymo was valued at $4.5 billion.
Last fall, the company announced that it was awarded the first permit in California to begin driverless testing on public roads.
“Fully driverless testing is the latest step in the path Waymo has been on since 2009, when we first began working on self-driving technology at Google. Since then, we’ve driven over 10 million autonomous miles on public roads across 25 cities. California will join our driverless testing program that’s already been happening in Phoenix, AZ since last year,” the company wrote in a blog post at the time.