writer: FutureCar Employees    

Alphabet Inc’s autonomous driving unit Waymo is increasing its relationship with U.S. transportation and logistics firm J.B. Hunt. The 2 firms have entered right into a long-term, strategic alliance to commercialize autonomous driving expertise for Class-8 vans after a profitable trials runs utilizing self-driving vans all through 2021. 

Waymo is engaged on autonomous freight supply as a part of its logistics enterprise “Waymo Through”, which focuses on outfitting Class-8 long-haul vans with {hardware} and software program for autonomous driving. Waymo had been testing its self-driving vans on public roads in California, Georgia, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas for the previous a number of years.

Waymo calls its autonomous driving {hardware} and software program stack the “Waymo Driver”.

As a part of this settlement, J.B. Hunt, which is the third largest trucking agency within the U.S., will probably be Waymo Through’s first launch buyer for  autonomous freight supply when Waymo deploys its totally autonomous freight operations in Texas over the subsequent few years. The plans additionally embrace extra autonomous supply efforts collectively to arrange for these totally autonomous operations, in line with Waymo.

“Our collaboration with J.B. Hunt in 2021 was extremely fruitful. Establishing this strategic alliance marks an thrilling second for our relationship, and extra importantly, paves the best way for us each to assist develop the foundations for profitable deployment and to capitalize on the advantages of autonomous driving expertise, ” mentioned Charlie Jatt, Head of Commercialization for Trucking, Waymo Through. We’re extremely grateful for our relationship with J.B. Hunt and their shared imaginative and prescient for the security and effectivity advantages we will convey to the business at a essential time.”

Waymo may even proceed to conduct joint operational and market research to chart the business success of its autonomous driving expertise mixed with J.B. Hunt’s operations.

Some analysts predict that self-driving vans will seem on highways properly earlier than self-driving autos that carry passengers. From an engineering standpoint, creating an autonomous truck for freeway driving is far much less complicated in comparison with passenger autos or robotaxis able to navigating metropolis streets which are filled with different autos, pedestrians and bicyclists.

Autonomous vans can even significantly improve security, effectivity and prices, which is engaging to delivery firms like J.B. Hunt. The self-driving vans can function 24 hours a day, since they will not require taking breaks like human drivers.

“Our pilot final yr with Waymo Through actually helped us get a hands-on understanding of how autonomous driving expertise might be carried out inside our operations,” mentioned Craig Harper, Chief Sustainability Officer, J.B. Hunt. “We imagine autonomous driving expertise will assist us create essentially the most environment friendly transportation community in North America, and our collaboration with Waymo Through is a pivotal step in direction of fulfilling that mission.”

To handle the necessities for freeway driving, Waymo developed an extended vary notion system for its Class-8 vans that features lidar, radar and cameras. The Waymo Driver for vans can determine objects on the highway at better distances, which permits it to reply earlier and maneuver extra easily if wanted.

Waymo has been engaged on autonomous driving expertise for Class-8 vans since 2017. Its self-driving passenger car growth started earlier in 2009 as a part of Google’s self-driving automotive venture. 

Google spun off the self-driving automotive venture as Waymo when its restructured as Alphabet Inc. in Oct 2015. Google and Waymo are each now wholly-owned subsidiaries of mother or father Alphabet.

With the backing of Google over time and greater than decade of growth, Waymo is taken into account to be the U.S. business chief in autonomous driving expertise. The corporate’s fleet of self-driving take a look at autos has traveled over 25 million miles on public roads as Waymo improves and refines its Waymo Driver.

Along with the Waymo Through logistics enterprise, the corporate plans to launch a business robotaxi service in U.S. cities sooner or later that will compete with Uber and Lyft.

The app-based autonomous ride-hailing service known as “Waymo One”. Waymo is aiming to launch the service quickly in San Francisco, and created a waitlist for folks desirous to hail a experience in one among its fully-driverless autos, and it is large.

Waymo’s co-CEO, Tekedra Mawakana, mentioned in early December that “tens of 1000’s” of San Francisco residents are on Waymo’s waitlist for a chance to takes a experience in one among Waymo’s self-driving robotaxis, which are literally electrical Jaguar I-Tempo SUVs outfitted with {hardware} and software program for autonomous driving.

J.B. Hunt shouldn’t be the one shipper firm partnering with Waymo. In November, UPS introduced it was including Waymo’s autonomous Class 8 vans to its supply fleet in Texas. The partnership between Waymo and UPS goes again a number of years.

In 2020, Waymo introduced a separate partnership with Daimler Vehicles to combine its superior Waymo Driver into Class 8 vans from Freightliner.