Waymo announced plans to build a center for independent semi-trailers on a nine-acre site near Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. The company, owned by the alphabet, also said it is collaborating with truck company Ryder on fleet management as it appears to be growing the delivery and logistics portion of its business.
The center of South Dallas is the “primary operating center of the Waymon Autonomous Truck Fleet.” The center will be built for “hundreds of trucks and staff” as the company approaches the launch of full-scale freight operations with its fully independent vehicles — although Waymo has yet to say exactly when that will happen.
In its Class 8 truck fleet, Waymo is currently testing its driver’s fifth-generation driver, which is used to describe a combination of hardware, sensors and artificial intelligence software. The company is also works with JB Hunt Transport Services to carry cargo along several states of Texas. And Waymo will continue to work with Daimler, The parent company of Mercedes-Benz, with a fully independent, level 4 truck system.
While much of the audience is focused on Waymon’s independent minivans operating in Arizona as part of a limited ride service, less attention has been paid to the company’s announced plans to begin commercial freight. Waymo has a modest Peterbilt truck fleet equipped with retrofitted autonomous driving sensors and software and is currently testing them Arizona, California and Texas.
The trucks operate independently during tests and commercial deliveries, but include two Waymon employees, a commercially licensed driver and a software designer, who sit in the cab and oversee the driving.
Waymo also said it plans to partner with Ryder, one of the country’s largest rental car transport companies. This includes fleet maintenance, inspections and roadside services – although both companies see opportunities for future services. Waymo has similar offers for its robotax fleet in Arizona and California Avis and AutoNation.
Waymo has been working with independent trucks since 2017 and plans to eventually launch a full-scale freight and delivery service called Waymo Via. Recent Bloomberg article in detail, many of the company’s struggles to grow into a commercially viable business after the pilot phase.