Waymo revealed plans to construct a center for its self-driving semi-trailer vehicles on a nine-acre property near Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. The Alphabet-owned firm also announced a fleet management partnership with rental truck giant Ryder as it seeks to expand its delivery and logistics operations.
The South Dallas hub will serve as Waymo’s “main operations center” in the state for its fleet of self-driving trucks. The center will be created to handle “hundreds of trucks and employees” as Waymo moves closer to establishing a full-scale freight-hauling operation using its fully autonomous cars.
Waymo is now testing the fifth version of its “Driver,” which is a combination of hardware, sensors, and AI software, on its fleet of Class 8 trucks. In addition, the firm is collaborating with JB Hunt Transport Services to transport freight along various Texas interstates. Waymo is also working with Daimler, Mercedes-parent Benz’s firm, on a fully autonomous, Level 4 truck system.
While most of the public’s attention has been focused on Waymo’s self-driving minivans, which are now operating in Arizona as part of limited ride-hailing service, less attention has been devoted to the company’s stated ambitions to ultimately start a commercial freight carrying operation. Waymo has a small fleet of Peterbilt trucks equipped with autonomous driving sensors and software that it is testing in Arizona, California, and Texas.
During tests and commercial deliveries, the trucks run autonomously, but two Waymo workers, a professionally certified driver, and a software engineer sit in the cab and oversee the driving.
Waymo also announced a partnership with Ryder, one of the nation’s leading rental truck operators, to provide fleet management services. This will cover fleet maintenance, inspections, and roadside support, however, both firms anticipate potential service prospects. Waymo has similar agreements with Avis and AutoNation for its robotaxi fleet in Arizona and California.