Waymo will transport freight for a key customer of logistics company JB Hunt Transport Services in what the two companies are calling a “test run” that will take place in one of the nation’s busiest business corridors.
The company’s trucking and cargo transportation service, Via Waymo, will transport goods along Interstate 45 between Houston and Fort Worth, Texas. The trucks will be operated by the Waymo Driver Autonomous Platform, although a Waymo “autonomous specialist”, a commercially licensed truck driver and a software technician will ride in each truck to oversee operations.
This isn’t the first time Alphabet subsidiary JB Hunt and Waymo have teamed up. It looks like companies have been preparing to test autonomous trucks for some time.
“We have worked closely with JB Hunt on operational and market studies for some time and will continue to do so as we roll out autonomous driving technology,” Waymo said in a blog post. “We’ve explored topics such as best practices for routine maintenance, what the facility layout will look like in the future, and which lanes are best suited for autonomous driving technology, to help ensure long-term readiness on both sides.”
Waymo declined to share the specific number of trucks used for the test run with ClearTips, but a spokesperson said it would be a limited-term pilot “with the goal of jointly developing a long-term plan.” as well as how our companies can work together.”
The Waymo Driver is a Level 4 platform, which means it can theoretically operate without a human safety driver behind the wheel, but only under certain conditions (such as clear weather).
The autonomous driving company has also partnered with Daimler Trucks to equip Daimler Freightliners with Waymo drivers. This is in addition to a partnership with Volvo to develop electric robotaxis and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for autonomous cargo vans.