Waymo and JB Hunt test robot trucks in Texas, Auto News, ET Auto
DETROIT: U.S. truck fleet operator JB Hunt Transport Services Inc and autonomous vehicle technology company Waymo will test human-supervised autonomous trucks to deliver freight between Houston and Fort Worth, TX, expanding a relationship existing.
The test comes as trucking companies scramble to find drivers and experiment with automated driving technology as a way to potentially reduce the need for human operators.
Waymo, a unit of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc, said Thursday that its Waymo Via trucking operation would provide JB Hunt trucks equipped with its automated driving systems to haul loads along Interstate 45 between Houston and Fort Worth. The trucks will be able to drive the freeway themselves, but they will have a licensed driver and software technician on board, the companies said.
The test will have a limited duration.
JB Hunt said in a statement that the test will provide the freight forwarding company with data on how automated trucks might work on its network.
“While we believe there will be a need for highly skilled professional drivers for many years to come, it is important for JB Hunt, as an industry leader, to be involved in the development from the start. of advanced autonomous technologies and driving systems to ensure that their implementation will improve efficiency while improving safety, ”said Craig Harper, chief sustainability officer and executive vice president of JB Hunt, in a statement .
Automated driving technology for passenger vehicles and commercial trucks has been under development by Waymo and other companies for more than a decade. So far, the companies have not launched a large-scale commercial deployment in the United States of robo-taxi or robo-freight services.
Union leaders have targeted the prospect of self-driving trucks, warning Washington lawmakers that thousands of jobs could be lost https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/us-labor-leader-calls-human -drivers-automated-vehicles-2021-05-17 if they allow truck fleets to replace drivers with software-driven robots.
Waymo and JB Hunt have previously worked together on planning automated truck fleets, the companies said. The Texas trials are aimed at developing a long-term collaborative plan, the companies said.