J.B. Hunt (CCJ Top 250, No. 3) has entered into a long-term strategic alliance with Waymo Via in an effort to advance efforts to integrate commercial autonomous driving technology in transportation and logistics. The goal is fully autonomous transport in Texas within the next few years.
Waymo is the self-driving unit of Google-parent Alphabet. Waymo Via is its trucking arm.
J.B. Hunt Chief Sustainability Officer and Executive Vice President Craig Harper said its pilot last year with Waymo Via helped the Lowell, Arkansas-based carrier "get a hands-on understanding of how autonomous driving technology could be implemented within our operations. This strategic alliance will continue that momentum and further explore the intricate details that would make this a value-driven solution for customers," he said. "We believe autonomous driving technology will help us create the most efficient transportation network in North America, and our collaboration with Waymo Via is a pivotal step towards fulfilling that mission.”
The expanded collaboration will include multiple pilots to further analyze the operational capacity of Waymo Via, the company’s autonomous Class 8 trucking unit powered by the Waymo Driver, to address customer needs in realistic scenarios. Waymo and J.B. Hunt completed their first trial runs last year moving freight along I-45 in Texas for one of J.B. Hunt’s customers. The upcoming pilots will take place in the same lane.
Charlie Jatt, head of commercialization for trucking at Waymo, said establishing the strategic alliance paves the way for both companies to grow the foundations for successful deployment "and to capitalize on the benefits of autonomous driving technology."
Beyond the highway, the two will explore solutions that merge autonomous driving technology and the digital marketplace – like J.B. Hunt’s digital freight matching technology platform, J.B. Hunt 360°, which was responsible for processing 1.2 million loads in 2020. Waymo has over a decade of experience in building autonomous driving technology, having driven over 20 million miles on public roads across 13-plus U.S. states and 20 billion miles in simulation. The combined solution, which would make Waymo Via accessible through J.B. Hunt 360, would be a unique offering with potential to greatly improve transportation efficiency.
Additionally, the collaboration will include operational and market studies to refine the commercial readiness of the driving technology.