Autonomous trucking is here, and it could bring several benefits to the industry, such as making trucking safer, stronger, and more efficient while filling a critical demand for drivers.
Fully autonomous vehicles are already carrying passengers through Waymo’s ride-hailing service Waymo One in the Phoenix East Valley, and Waymo uses the same autonomous driving technology, albeit configured differently, across its vehicle platforms, including Class 8 trucks.
Waymo’s autonomous trucking and local delivery unit, called Waymo Via, could add a new option to help transport our nation’s goods. More than 70% of the goods Americans use in their everyday lives are carried by Class 8-trucks. It also complements the industry’s ongoing efforts to make trucking safer, as the Waymo Driver is designed to obey speed limits and remain constantly vigilant.
When it comes to autonomous trucking, the Waymo Driver is designed to carry out the on-the-road tasks of a human truck driver, including seeing and recognizing what’s happening around the vehicle and on the road ahead, anticipating what may happen next, and making attentive, safe, and compliant driving maneuvers in the many situations encountered on the road.
Waymo has also implemented a set of cameras, lidar, and radar that have been specifically configured to the challenges of truck driving and to help ensure safe turning, braking, lane changes, and more.
Waymo Via is building on more than 13 years of experience Waymo has in the autonomous driving sector, including more than 20 million miles on public roads and more than 20 billion of miles in simulation.
Waymo Via is Scaling Up Testing
Waymo Via is testing its autonomous driving technology in Class-8 trucks on highways in California, Arizona, and Texas. Waymo Via’s fleet of Peterbilt trucks have already begun testing the delivery of freight with partners such as J.B. Hunt and UPS.
Autonomous Trucking Could Enhance Efficiency
Autonomous driving technology has the potential to help ensure shipments arrive safely, securely, and on time.
Furthermore, solutions like Waymo Via could also help fleets meet their last-mile delivery challenges, which are efficiency roadblocks that can arise in the final miles of delivery to consumers.
Autonomous Trucking Could Address the Driver Shortage, Creating New Jobs in Trucking
The trucking industry faces a widespread truck driver shortage. The average age of long-haul truckers is 55, which means that many drivers will soon be retiring from the workforce without new drivers to replace them. The driver shortage presents a challenge to the industry, especially for long-haul routes.
Autonomous trucking could help ease this driver shortage while also creating new types of jobs in trucking. Waymo Via has already created roles, such as an autonomous specialist or project manager specific to AV trucking, since it launched in 2017.