Initially, when Waymo (owned by Alphabet) just started talking about unmanned cargo transportation in the United States, the idea was received rather skeptically than vice versa – truckers expressed the opinion that this technology would not go into full operation soon. However, already last year, Waymo, together with JB Hunt, the largest US freight carrier, conducted a series of tests of the technology – and very successfully. And now, the developers of unmanned vehicles have announced the next stage of cooperation, which involves the full launch of an autonomous trucking service in Texas in the next few years.
To do this, a subsidiary of Waymo Via, which is engaged in cargo transportation and local delivery of goods, will launch several pilot projects at once together with the giant JB Hunt. As part of these projects, additional testing of the company’s branded autonomous trucks, which are based on Waymo Driver unmanned driving technology, will take place. It is worth noting that earlier tests of joint projects between Waymo and JB Hunt were very successful – company representatives said that unmanned trucks transported about 390 tons of cargo in a very short time. Of course, this cannot be compared with the total volume of cargo transportation in the country, but the project was only a pilot one.
But JB Hunt noted the important advantages of unmanned trucks – during the tests they did not exceed speed limits, which is extremely important, for example, to improve the overall level of road safety, as well as to reduce the overall wear and tear of the vehicle itself. Drones have not yet been involved in accidents, did not impede traffic on the highways, which means, according to the freight carrier, the Waymo Driver technology is reliable enough to be used not only in pilot projects, but also in real freight traffic.