Skip to main content

Waymo’s self-driving truck team now led by ex-Anki CEO, engineering team

Besides running a public ride service, Waymo is partnering with car makers and working on self-driving trucks to monetize its autonomous technology. The latter effort is getting a boost with the hiring of just over a dozen former Anki engineers.

Known for toy racing cars and other small robots, Anki shutdown in late April after it lost funding. Popularized by an Apple keynote in 2013, the startup focussed on making consumer devices infused with AI technology and smarts.

According to Axios today, Waymo hired the co-founder and ex-CEO Boris Sofman, along with 12 other robotics experts from the defunct company. Sofman now leads the autonomous trucking effort and previously worked with Waymo alumni while a student at Carnegie Mellon.

Described as an “all-star engineering team,” the Anki team working on Waymo trucks consists of five PhDs from CMU, as well as MIT and Stanford.

Waymo truck

Waymo trucks have been in testing since 2017. A real-world pilot began in March 2018 to deliver cargo for a Google data center in Atlanta. Back in May, the vehicles returned to Phoenix, with California serving as another testing site.

The semis feature the same custom sensors as passenger vehicles, including LIDAR, radar, and cameras. This technology is mounted on the front tractor that Waymo painted bright blue. The same AI principles apply, but additional considerations are made for braking, turning, and blind spots, especially when a trailer is attached.

The Alphabet division previously noted how “self-driving technology has the potential to make this sector safer and even stronger,” with the Anki team working on Waymo trucks helping accelerate that.

Trucking is a vital part of the American economy, and we believe self-driving technology has the potential to make this sector safer and even stronger. With Waymo in the driver’s seat, we can reimagine many different types of transportation.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

You’re reading 9to5Google — experts who break news about Google and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Google on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel

Check out 9to5Google on YouTube for more news:



Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: