J.B. Hunt will be Waymo’s first self-driving freight customer

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Waymo Via, the trucking and cargo transportation arm of the autonomous vehicle company, is expanding its existing partnership with logistics company JB Hunt Transport Services from a pilot to a long-term strategic alliance.

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As part of the agreement, JB Hunt will be Waymo Via’s first launch customer for fully autonomous, driverless freight routes, which is expected to reach Waymo within the next few years.

Waymo and JB Hunt begin a “test run” in 2021 along I-45 between Houston and Fort Worth, Texas, one of the busiest business corridors in the country. Waymo’s Daimler trucks, powered by the Waymo Driver Autonomous Platform, carried 862,179 pounds of freight until the end of the pilot, with no accidents or speeding incidents, 100% on-time pickup and delivery and 100% freight intact, according to company, Each run was completed with a commercially licensed truck driver and a software technician supervising operations.

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Craig Harper, JB Hunt’s chief sustainability officer and executive vice president, said in a statement, “Our pilot with Waymo Via last year really helped us understand how autonomous driving technology can be applied to our operations. ” “This strategic alliance will continue that momentum and explore the intricate details that will make it a value-driven solution for customers.”

image credit: Waymo

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In 2022 and beyond, the companies intend to launch several more pilots along the same corridor in Texas to prepare for driverless autonomous operations.

Waymo did not share what specific goals it hopes to achieve for its next pilot with JB Hunt, in addition to strengthening the company’s driver-as-a-service model, in which Waymo plans to build autonomous trucks. Partners with OEMs such as Daimler. Waymo Driver. Those trucks would be purchased directly from the fleet or carrier, serviced by partners such as JB Hunt and Ryder.

“It’s a long-term vision,” Waymo spokesman Julian McGoldrick told Nerdshala. “In the interim as we grow that vision, we have our test fleet of trucks, and the pilots that we will do with those and with our autonomous experts to really get that operational practice so that when we To reach fully autonomous operations, we have all the foundations in place for JB Hunt and customers like them to move freight without any human drivers.

During the Waymo-JB Hunt partnership, the two companies plan to conduct joint operations and market studies to learn more about their collective progress using self-driving trucks, as well as a technology collaboration with the company’s JB Hunt 360. Looking for integration. Digital freight matching platform.

Of course, Waymo isn’t the only self-driving truck in Texas or elsewhere. TuSimple, one of the Waymo Via’s competitors, recently completed its first driverless autonomous trucking run, effectively putting its technology on more progressive milestones. Aurora and Kodiak Robotics are also testing and transporting freight forwarders in Texas.

McGoldrick says this doesn’t cause Waymo to worry — the Alphabet-owned strategy is more tightly tied to its partners than ticking off the autonomous boxes.

,I think what we’ve seen is a lot of partnerships or collaborations in the industry mainly centered around one-time trial runs or one-time pilots, and there’s not a lot of meat to them,” she said. “We are entering into this multi-year deal with multiple components that really covers everything and shows that we are going really deep with our partners, as opposed to just doing pilot for pilot. We are preparing exactly what our fully autonomous launch will look like with our partners so that when we are ready it is as successful as possible.”

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