J.B. Hunt Transport Services is venturing into the autonomous freight market with a new partnership with Waymo.
J.B. Hunt and Waymo, an autonomous driving technology developer owned by Google, will be collaborating on a freight hauling project in Texas. Using Waymo Via, a Class 8 trucking unit, J.B. Hunt will transport freight between facilities in Houston and Fort Worth.
During the project, the autonomous trucks will travel down Interstate 45, and while the trucks will perform autonomously, there will be individuals on board, evaluating its performance. This project will be accomplished by a team of individuals, including Waymo autonomous specialists, a commercially licensed truck driver and a software driver, who will be on board the vehicle to monitor the truck’s operations.
“This will be one of the first opportunities for J.B. Hunt to receive data and feedback on customer freight moved with a Class 8 tractor operating at this level of autonomy,” Craig Harper, chief sustainability officer and executive vice president at J.B. Hunt, said. “While we believe there will be a need for highly skilled, professional drivers for many years to come, it is important for J.B. Hunt as an industry leader to be involved early in the development of advanced autonomous technologies and driving systems to ensure that their implementation will improve efficiency while enhancing safety.”
This is not Waymo Via’s first trial with commercial freight, as the company began hauling freight in 2018 with a commercial pilot with Google’s Data Centers and other Fortune 500 companies.