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J.B. Hunt Transport and Waymo have entered into a long-term, strategic alliance to commercialize autonomous driving technology in the trucking industry.
Building on a pilot program conducted in 2021, the companies announced Jan. 14 that they are now extending their partnership with the goal of realizing fully autonomous freight operations in Texas “in the next few years.”
To pave the way for commercial deployment, the expanded collaboration will include additional on-highway testing with Class 8 trucks equipped with self-driving technology from Waymo Via, the company’s autonomous trucking division.
We’re expanding our relationship with @jbhunt360 and entering into a long-term, strategic alliance to commercialize the #WaymoDriver for trucking transportation together. More on what this joint path to fully autonomous, goods-only operations looks like: https://t.co/TUkJuWd7Qa pic.twitter.com/F87DYYI8DE— Waymo (@Waymo) January 14, 2022
Those tests will take place along Interstate 45 in Texas, on the same lane where the companies completed their first trial runs last year transporting freight between Houston and Fort Worth for an unnamed J.B. Hunt customer.
“Our pilot last year with Waymo Via really helped us get a hands-on understanding of how autonomous driving technology could be implemented within our operations,” Craig Harper, J.B. Hunt’s chief sustainability officer, said in the joint announcement. “This strategic alliance will continue that momentum and further explore the intricate details that would make this a value-driven solution for customers. We believe autonomous driving technology will help us create the most efficient transportation network in North America, and our collaboration with Waymo Via is a pivotal step toward fulfilling that mission.”
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In addition to their expanded on-highway pilot, Waymo and J.B. Hunt plan to explore a technology integration that would connect Waymo Via with the J.B. Hunt 360 digital freight matching platform.
Looking ahead, Waymo said it intends for J.B. Hunt to be Waymo Via’s first launch customer for freight movement when it deploys fully autonomous operations.
“We’re incredibly grateful for our relationship with J.B. Hunt and their shared vision for the safety and efficiency benefits we can bring to the industry at a critical time,” said Charlie Jatt, Waymo’s head of commercialization for trucking.
J.B. Hunt, an intermodal service provider and truckload carrier based in Lowell, Ark., ranks No. 4 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.
Waymo, which began as the Google Self-Driving Car Project in 2009, is a unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc. In addition to its autonomous trucking business, the company operates Waymo One, a fully autonomous ride-hailing service for car passengers.
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