Global logistics company C.H. Robinson and autonomous truck technology firm Waymo Via are partnering to advance the development of autonomous trucking for logistics and supply chain, the companies said today.
The companies said they will combine the benefits of Waymo Via’s driving technology, Waymo Driver, with C.H. Robinson’s logistics technology platform, Navisphere. In the first phase of the collaboration, the companies will use Waymo Via level 4 autonomous trucks to haul freight for C.H. Robinson customers between Dallas and Houston. Level 4 autonomous technology allows vehicles to operate in self-driving mode, but within limited areas. Waymo and C.H. Robinson said the pilots will be supervised by human drivers in the trucks.
The companies did not say when the tests will begin, but said they will run multiple pilots over the next few years, according to Charlie Jatt, head of commercialization for trucking at Waymo Via.
C.H. Robinson’s Chief Commercial Officer Chris O’Brien said the partnership will explore how autonomous driving technology can help increase capacity and sustainability in trucking and logistics in general, as well as how the technology can benefit its customers and carriers. The partners said the collaboration will leverage C.H. Robinson’s business with small and medium-sized carriers–those with less than 400 tractors–to gauge how autonomous driving technology can benefit that segment of the trucking industry, in particular.
“We believe there is a real opportunity to bring our scale and information advantage to bear to help develop transportation solutions for them [customers and carriers] and their ability to participate in and benefit from AV [autonomous vehicles],” O’Brien said in a press statement Wednesday. “C.H. Robinson is also best positioned to represent the role of drivers and small and mid-size carriers in a more autonomous future.”
Waymo Via is the trucking and local delivery business of autonomous driving tech firm Waymo. Jatt said the division will deliver its technology in a driver-as-a-service model, meaning that it will partner with truck manufacturers to provide Waymo Driver as a service available on vehicles. Waymo Via is already working with Daimler Truck to develop an autonomous chassis that will be equipped with the technology.
Victoria Kickham started her career as a newspaper reporter in the Boston area before moving into B2B journalism. She has covered manufacturing, distribution and supply chain issues for a variety of publications in the industrial and electronics sectors, and now writes about everything from forklift batteries to omnichannel business trends for DC Velocity.