Uber's Already Upgrading its Self-Driving Truck Fleet with new Technology

Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group is already testing a new variant of the company’s autonomous trucks, which now come with even more technology.

Vineeth Joel Patel
    Jul 07, 2017 12:00 PM  PT
Uber's Already Upgrading its Self-Driving Truck Fleet with new Technology
author: Vineeth Joel Patel   

Now that the majority of automakers and companies are working on coming out with autonomous cars, some companies, like Waymo and Uber, have taken it upon themselves to be some of the first to introduce self-driving trucks, which would revolutionize the trucking industry. 

Uber has been working on an autonomous truck for some time now, the first sign of real progress came back in 2016 when the company acquired truck startup Otto. A lot has changed over the past two years, especially when it comes to technology, and Uber is finally giving everyone a good look at its updated driverless truck. 

New Tech Equals Smarter Trucks

According to Tech Crunch, Uber's Advance Technologies Group created a new variant of its autonomous transport truck that is now packed with even more high-tech features. The new model, as the report claims, is fitted with an updated technology stack, which includes a 64-channel spinning LiDAR array. The outlet states that the new LiDAR system is most likely from Velodyne and not a unit that the company developed on its own.  In addition to the new system, the truck also has new sensors and software components, as well. 

As far as the truck's looks, the video reveals that Uber has gone for an all-white approach without any Otto branding on it, which makes sense, as the company was recently involved in a large lawsuit involving Waymo who claimed that former Anthony Levandowski downloaded technical files and used them to start Otto.  

With Otto out of the picture, Tech Crunch reports that Uber's Advanced Technology group (ATG) has taken complete control of the project with Otto falling underneath its umbrella. Now that Uber's ATG has released a video of its new trucks, which you can watch below, it looks like the company is on the right path to release the vehicles in the near future. But Tech Crunch claim that Otto is still leading the way forward. 

Is Otto Still Involved?

ATG trucks product manager Alden Woodrow told the outlet that the Otto team, which is based in San Francisco is still at the head of the program. "Otto was based in San Francisco, and so with the integration, most of our engineering effort is still based in San Francisco for the trucks," said Woodrow. "But one of the great things about being part of this larger team is we have that team in Pittsburgh that has a really world-class team and that has several years' head start on developing similar technologies. So we work really closely with the team in Pittsburgh." 

Woodrow also said that the ATG teams work with the ones located in Pittsburgh and San Francisco, as well as the new office that is located in Toronto. 

With the new set of equipment, Uber believes its ATG trucks to be Level 2 vehicles, which according to SAE, can do the majority of driving on its own, but needs to have a human behind the wheel of the car to be able to take control at any moment – like the Tesla Model S. Woodrow claims that every truck that's being tested has a driver behind the wheel that's ready to take control. 

While Uber had trouble testing its vehicles in the state of California in the beginning, things have gotten a lot better for the company, as Woodrow claims that Uber and the state's DMV have been working together in a close relationship to ensure that their vehicles are given the green light to be tested. 

With Uber's ATG giving the company's trucks even more technology, it's only a matter of time until the autonomous machines are ferrying goods across the country in the United States. 

via: Tech Crunch