Waymo’s robotic semi-trailers will haul goods for UPS amid high freight demand
Waymo, Alphabet Inc.’s autonomous driving unit, expands partnership with UPS beyond urban delivery vans to include robotic semi-trucks to haul much larger loads for global logistics giant in Texas .
The Mountain View, Calif., Based company said it is entering the new trial phase with UPS as the year-end holiday season begins and with unusually high demand for trucking services. Its Waymo Via division, which focuses on trucking and autonomous deliveries, will perform delivery rounds for UPS’s North American air cargo unit between the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston facilities.
UPS has “proven to be an incredible partner to us over the years,” said Charlie Jatt, Trucking Marketing Manager at Waymo. “We couldn’t be happier to expand our work together to transport freight with Class 8 trucks and to assess the impact the Waymo driver can have on safety and operational efficiency. “
Today’s supply chain headaches, safeguarded ports, and the shortage of long-haul truck drivers have heightened interest in companies developing stand-alone solutions to alleviate delivery issues. This month Aurora and Embark, two robotic truck technology developers, raised funds through stock market listings, following San Diego-based TuSimple, which held its IPO in April and is targeting to start operating large platforms without a human behind the wheel from the next. year.
Waymo, which operates a commercial robotaxi service in suburban Phoenix with its Waymo One division, has stepped up its trucking program over the past year, entering into a production partnership with Daimler, bringing in Ryder as as a service provider and building a high-tech autonomous truck depot in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
The company currently has a fleet of four dozen semi-finals for testing and deliveries by Waymo Via, although he did not specify how many of those trucks will be used for UPS freight. Currently, he is testing with a human emergency driver behind the wheel.
Waymo Via began hauling smaller shipments for UPS last year, modifying some of its Chrysler Pacifica minivans to haul packages rather than passengers between UPS stores and a distribution center in suburban Phoenix.