Transportation and logistics provider J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. will haul furniture and appliances for the home goods retailer Wayfair using autonomous trucks in a Texas pilot project, the companies said today.
The program will span six-plus weeks during July and August and take place along the 240-mile corridor between Houston and Dallas along I-45. During each trip, two autonomous vehicle specialists—a commercially licensed driver and a software technician—will be in the cab to monitor operations.
The companies plan to gather data relating to delivery logistics, loading and unloading freight, autonomous performance, and factors influencing the overall driving and non-driving experience.
Arkansas-based J.B. Hunt will provide the self-driving semis by teaming with Waymo, an autonomous driving technology developer. The firm, which also creates autonomous passenger cars, will supply the systems through its Waymo Via unit, its autonomous Class 8 trucking arm that deploys its Waymo Driver technology.
This pilot follows a similar arrangement in Texas nearly one year ago, in which Hunt and Waymo combined to move more than 862,000 pounds of freight, saying the test went off with no accidents and 100% on-time pick-up and delivery.
The announcement marks the second partnership by Waymo Via in under a month, after it launched a deal in June with digital freight matching platform Uber Freight to create a hybrid network where autonomous trucks handle “middle mile” highway routes and human drivers take over for first- and final-mile portions.
“Real-time testing with customers like Wayfair is critical to making autonomous freight movement a viable solution in the future,” Craig Harper, chief sustainability officer and executive vice president at J.B. Hunt, said in a release. “Every supply chain is unique, so it’s important that customers can work alongside J.B. Hunt and Waymo to ensure that advanced autonomous technology will create capacity that meets their needs. Through shared experiences, technology integration and innovative thinking, autonomous technology can help us advance J.B. Hunt’s mission to create the most efficient transportation network in North America.”
As part of our ongoing collaboration with @Waymo, we’re excited to begin a new pilot moving #Freight for @Wayfair. The pilot will help us work toward our long-term vision of completing a fully #Autonomous delivery. Learn more! #AutonomousDriving #WaymoVia https://t.co/BYcJVlCoAZ— J.B. Hunt 360 (@jbhunt360) June 28, 2022