Waymo Increases Self-Driving Trucks in California, Texas, and Arizona
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Arguably, Waymo is the largest and oldest player in self-driving cars.
Founded in 2009 by Google as the Google Self-Driving Car Project, Waymo is a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Waymo’s mission is “to make it safe and easy for people and things to move around.”
It is also safe to say that Google’s willingness to take chances on technology that may not pay off for many years is evident in Waymo’s investment in self-driving car technology.
TechCrunch provides some background on the company and tells us that Waymo is increasing its fleet of self-driving trucks in California, Texas, and Arizona.
The real question is, what isn’t Google invested in?
As a company, Waymo is divided into two parts. Waymo Via, which focuses on goods delivery in both local delivery and trucking formats, and Waymo One, which is the consumer ride-hailing service, are the two autonomous initiatives of the company.
Waymo completed the world’s first autonomous trip on public roads in October 2015 and expanded a vehicle supply deal with Fiat Chrysler to bring in a fleet of 600 minivans in April 2017. Additionally, Waymo announced that it had begun testing driverless cars in November 2017.
Since then Waymo’s achievements have grown when it comes to its self-driving initiative. These achievements include the completion of over 20 million miles on public roads, thousands of tests on private tracks, and more than 15 billion miles in simulation.
Commercial plans and testing for self-driving trucks
Waymo is partnering with Ryder for fleet management services. The company is also building a dedicated trucking hub in Dallas. That is a two-pronged move that focuses on scaling Waymo’s autonomous trucking operations across California, Texas, and Arizona.
The announcement comes just a few months after the company shared news about a $2.5 billion raise that will continue growing its autonomous driving platform, the Waymo Driver, and its team.
Waymo has also been ramping up testing on the fifth generation of the Driver on Class 8 trucks, working with Daimler Trucks to develop a robust level 4 redundant vehicle platform. Level 4 autonomy means that an automobile can drive itself without a human.
However, that should happen only in predefined routes, like the I-45 route between Houston and Fort Worth, Texas where trucks are hauling freight for carriers like J.B. Hunt.
When it comes to self-driving, what else is Waymo investing in?
Waymo plans to build a trucking hub for its autonomous trucking operations. To that effect, the company has already broken ground on a new nine-acre piece of land in Dallas.
The hub will service one of the busiest corridors in the country and is expected to accommodate hundreds of trucks, TechCrunch reported. That will be in line with Waymo’s expansion plans in the region, and the hub will also facilitate larger and more complex autonomous testing.
The trucking hub in Dallas will be well situated to support long-haul routes across state borders, and it also connects with Waymo’s Phoenix operations center. The company expects to move into the Dallas facility during the first half of 2022.
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