J.B. Hunt can be Waymo’s first self-driving freight buyer – TechCrunch

Waymo By way of, the autonomous car firm’s trucking and cargo transportation unit, is increasing its current partnership with logistics firm J.B. Hunt Transport Providers from a pilot right into a long-term strategic alliance.

As a part of the settlement, J.B. Hunt can be Waymo By way of’s first launch buyer for absolutely autonomous, driverless freight routes, which Waymo expects to succeed in inside the subsequent few years.

Waymo and J.B. Hunt started a “check run” in 2021 alongside the I-45 between Houston and Fort Price, Texas, one of many nation’s busiest commerce corridors. Waymo’s Daimler vans, powered by the Waymo Driver autonomous platform, delivered 862,179 kilos of freight by the tip of the pilot, with no crashes or rushing occasions, 100% on-time pickup and supply and 100% freight intact, based on the corporate. Every of the runs had been accomplished with a commercially licensed truck driver and a software program technician onboard to watch operations.

“Our pilot final yr with Waymo By way of actually helped us get a hands-on understanding of how autonomous driving expertise could possibly be applied inside our operations,” mentioned Craig Harper, chief sustainability officer and govt vice chairman at J.B. Hunt, in an announcement. “This strategic alliance will proceed that momentum and additional discover the intricate particulars that may make this a value-driven resolution for patrons.”

Picture Credit: Waymo

In 2022 and past, the businesses intend to launch a number of extra pilots alongside the identical hall in Texas to organize for driverless autonomous operations.

Waymo didn’t share what particular targets it hopes to attain for its subsequent pilot with J.B. Hunt, aside from to agency up the corporate’s driver-as-a-service mannequin, which entails Waymo partnering with an OEM like Daimler to construct autonomous vans geared up with the Waymo Driver. These vans can be bought instantly from fleets or carriers, like J.B. Hunt and serviced by companions like Ryder.

“That’s the long-term imaginative and prescient,” Julianne McGoldrick, a Waymo spokesperson, informed TechCrunch. “Within the interim as we scale as much as that imaginative and prescient, we now have our check fleet of vans, and the pilots that we’ll do with these and with our autonomous specialists are actually to realize that operational follow in order that once we do attain absolutely autonomous operations, we now have all of the foundations in place to haul freight with no human driver for J.B. Hunt and prospects like them.”

Over the course of the Waymo-J.B. Hunt partnership, the 2 firms additionally plan to conduct joint operational and market research to be taught extra about their collective progress utilizing self-driving vans, in addition to discover a expertise integration with J.B. Hunt 360, the corporate’s digital freight matching platform.

After all, Waymo isn’t the one self-driving truck on the roads in Texas, or elsewhere. Considered one of Waymo By way of’s rivals, TuSimple, just lately accomplished its first driverless autonomous trucking run, which successfully places its tech at a extra progressive milestone. Aurora and Kodiak Robotics are additionally testing and carrying freight in Texas. 

That doesn’t fear Waymo – the Alphabet-owned technique is linked extra tightly with its companions than with ticking off autonomous packing containers, McGoldrick says. 

 “I feel what we’ve seen is loads of partnerships or collaborations within the trade have been primarily centered round one-off trial runs or one-off pilots, and there hasn’t been a lot meat to them,” she mentioned. “We’re getting into this multi-year cope with a number of elements that actually cowl every thing and present that we’re going actually deep with our companions, versus simply doing a pilot for pilot’s sake. We’re actually crafting what our absolutely autonomous launch will appear like along with our companions in order that it’s as profitable as potential once we’re prepared.”  

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