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Autonomous FreightAutonomous VehiclesNewsTop StoriesTrucking

Waymo Via partners with C.H. Robinson to explore small fleet autonomy

More robot trucking action as Waymo Via adds giant 3PL to its collaborators

Waymo Via will add loads from third-party logistics giant C.H. Robinson to its pilot runs on Interstate 45 in Texas as the two companies partner to figure out how to make autonomous trucking work for small fleets.

Waymo Via is bringing the trucks, Freightliner Cascadias outfitted with the Waymo Driver Level 4 high-autonomy robot driving system. Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based Robinson (NASDAQ: CHRW) is contributing its Navisphere connected logistics platform used to track much of the $21 billion in freight that Robinson moves for customers annually.

The additional capacity on the Dallas/Fort Worth-to-Houston corridor could  help alleviate a shortage of drivers that is among the issues in an ongoing supply chain crisis.

“Together, we are going to harness this emerging freight technology and its potential on behalf of customers and carriers,” Chris O’Brien, Robinson chief commercial officer, said in a press release. “C.H. Robinson is also best positioned to represent the role of drivers and small and mid-size carriers in a more autonomous future.”

Waymo Via’s approach to driver-as-a-service autonomous trucking (Image: Waymo Via)

The long-term collaboration will start with human driver-supervised pilot runs of Robinson customer freight over the next few years. Waymo’s go-to-market plan is to partner with OEMs, starting with Daimler Truck, to guide requirements for Daimler’s ground-up autonomous chassis that will be designed for and equipped with the Waymo Driver. 

Fleets and carriers will purchase the trucks from Daimler. Waymo Via will provide deployment support and ongoing services for its hardware and software components in a driver-as-a-service model.

‘Size, scale and platform’

“C.H. Robinson’s size, scale and platform gives us access to rich and unique transportation data along with customer relationships and pilot opportunities to help bring our Waymo Via solution to the market,” said Charlie Jatt, head of trucking commercialization at Waymo.

Waymo, which recently announced an extension of autonomous testing with J.B. Hunt Transport (NASDAQ: JBHT) has more than 20 million miles of mostly automotive testing dating to its 2009 origin as the Google Self-Driving Car program. Waymo is owned by Google parent Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL).

Waymo’s test fleet of Peterbilt trucks, powered by the Waymo Driver autonomous platform, delivered 862,179 pounds of freight by the end of the pilot, with no crashes or speeding events, 100% on-time pickup and delivery, and 100% of the freight intact, the company said in December.

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes J.B. Hunt (No. 4).

Seasonal assist: Waymo Via testing autonomous trucks with UPS in Texas

How much do Waymo Via’s autonomous trucks benefit from driverless cars?

J.B. Hunt will test Waymo Via autonomous trucks in Texas

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes UPS (No. 2) and J.B. Hunt (No. 4).

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is a Detroit-based award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press, the Detroit Free Press and most recently as Detroit Bureau Chief for Trucks.com. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.