JB Hunt and Waymo to move freight autonomously in Texas

  • June 22, 2021
  • William Payne

Arkansas based supply chain specialist J.B. Hunt is collaborating with Google affiliate Waymo to move freight autonomously in Texas for one of J.B. Hunt’s leading customers.

The test run will use Waymo Via, the company’s autonomous Class 8 trucking unit powered by the Waymo Driver, to haul freight between facilities in Houston and Fort Worth, Texas. 

The transport along Interstate 45 will be completed using Level 4 autonomous driving technology supervised by Waymo autonomous specialists, a commercially licensed driver and a software technician, on board to monitor every aspect of the Waymo Driver’s operations throughout the runs.

Through the collaboration, J.B. Hunt and Waymo Via will be exploring how autonomous driving technology can be integrated across fleets and enhance safety and efficiency. The two have worked closely on operational and market studies that explored topics such as best practices for regular maintenance, what future facility layouts will look like, and which lanes are best suited for autonomous driving technology. The trial run will also help J.B. Hunt and Waymo define how they can continue working together long-term.

“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,” said Craig Harper, chief sustainability officer and executive vice president at J.B. Hunt. “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.”

“We’re thrilled to collaborate with J.B. Hunt as we advance and commercialise the Waymo Driver,” said Charlie Jatt, head of commercialisation for trucking at Waymo. “Our teams share an innovative and safety-first mindset as well as a deep appreciation for the potential benefits of autonomous driving technology in trucking. It’s companies and relationships like these that will make this technology a commercial reality in the coming years.”