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Waymo picks Dallas for driverless trucking hub

California-based firm will test trucks daily, focusing on El Paso-to-Dallas and Dallas-to-Houston trucking lanes

Waymo’s new permanent facility will initially serve as a hub for road-testing Waymo’s fleet of driverless robotic Peterbilt 579 trucks. (Photo: Waymo)

Waymo recently bolstered its self-driving truck program by expanding into Texas with a new hub in Dallas.

Waymo joins a growing number of driverless tech firms locating facilities or freight operations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, including Aurora, Nuro, Kodiak Robotics and TuSimple.

“Operating in a major freight hub environment like Dallas, we can test our Waymo Driver on highly dense highways and shipper lanes, further understand how other truck and passenger car drivers behave on these routes, and continue to refine the way our Waymo driver reacts and responds in this busy driving region,” said Waymo spokesperson Julianne McGoldrick. “It also enables us to further advance our weather testing in a diverse set of environments.”

Waymo’s new permanent facility will initially serve as a hub for road-testing Waymo’s fleet of driverless robotic Peterbilt 579 trucks, McGoldrick said.

“We will be testing Peterbilt 579s daily,” McGoldrick said. “We’ll be driving along many of the interstates, like Interstate 10, Interstate 20, and Interstate 45, specifically focused on the El Paso-to-Dallas and Dallas-to-Houston trucking lanes.”

Waymo is based in Mountain View, California. It was founded in 2009 as the Google Self-Driving Car Project and became known as Waymo in December 2016. Waymo is backed by Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL), the parent company of Google.

Waymo will also be testing on other highways around Dallas and some surface streets as well, McGoldrick said.

“Outside of Texas, we’ll be driving along the I-10 from Phoenix through Tucson and across New Mexico to Texas. We do test in California around our headquarters in Mountain View, but those routes are not connected to the routes we’re driving across Arizona, New Mexico and Texas,” McGoldrick said. 

Truck tonnage on Texas highways is expected to more than double from 1.2 billion tons in 2016 to 2.5 billion tons in 2045, according to the Texas Department of Transportation’s 2018 Texas Freight Mobility Plan.

Daily truck trips will increase by nearly 50% to more than 1 million a day during this period, according to the study.

Waymo is one of a growing list of driverless trucking/vehicle companies aiming to take advantage of key trucking lanes in Texas.  

In March, autonomous trucking startup TuSimple expanded its cargo service for UPS with more deliveries from Texas to Arizona. TuSimple also announced plans to open a new shipping terminal in Dallas in the fall.

Self-driving startup Aurora began testing delivery vans and Class 8 trucks in commercial routes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in July.

Kodiak Robotics, which has a facility in the Dallas area, has been running daily commercial loads between Dallas and Houston since September 2019.

Nuro, a robotics startup, began testing commercial driverless delivery vans in Houston in February.

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]