Wednesday , July 6 2022

Waymo is building a hub for its autonomous trucks in Texas

Waymo announced plans to build a hub for its autonomous semi-trailer trucks on a nine-acre site near Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. The Alphabet-owned company also said it is partnering with rental truck company Ryder on fleet management as it looks to grow the delivery and logistics portion of its business.

The hub in South Dallas will be Waymo’s “primary operations center” in the state for its fleet of autonomous trucks. The hub will be built to accommodate “hundreds of trucks and personnel” as the company gets closer to launching a full-scale freight-hauling operation using its fully autonomous vehicles — though Waymo has yet to say exactly when that will be.

Currently, Waymo is testing the fifth generation of its “Driver,” which is the term used to describe its combination of hardware, sensors, and AI software, on its fleet of Class 8 trucks. The company is also working with JB Hunt Transport Services to haul freight along several interstates in Texas. And Waymo is continuing its work with Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, on a fully autonomous, Level 4 system for trucks.

While much of the public’s focus has been on Waymo’s autonomous minivans that operate in Arizona as part of a limited ride-hailing service, less attention has been paid to the company’s stated plans to eventually launch a commercial freight hauling business. Waymo has a fleet of Peterbilt trucks that have been retrofitted with autonomous driving sensors and software, and it is currently testing them in Arizona, California, and Texas.

The trucks operate autonomously during tests and commercial deliveries but include two Waymo employees, a commercially licensed driver, and a software engineer, who sit in the cab and monitor the driving.

Waymo also said it would be teaming up with Ryder, one of the nation’s largest rental truck operators, for help with fleet management services. This will include fleet maintenance, inspections, and roadside assistance — though both companies see opportunities for future services. Waymo has similar deals for its robotaxi fleet in Arizona and California with Avis and AutoNation.

Waymo has been working on autonomous trucks since 2017 and plans to eventually launch a full-scale freight hauling and delivery service called Waymo Via. A recent Bloomberg article detailed many of the company’s struggles to grow beyond the experimental phase into a commercially viable business.

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