Chrysler Pacifica vans fitted with Waymo’s technology will map roads ahead of driverless Peterbilt trucks as part of a project known as Husky. The move comes after Waymo’s self-driving truck pilots in the San Francisco Bay Area, Michigan, Arizona, Georgia, and on Metro Phoenix freeways (as well as on the I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson).
The demand for driverless trucks is strong. They are predicted to reach 6,700 units globally, this year, and save the logistics industry $70 billion annually while boosting productivity by up to 30%. Besides the appeal of cost savings, growth is also driven by a shortage of human truck drivers.
The fact that Waymo, which has historically been focused on creating autonomous ride-sharing services, is looking to expand into logistics and freight services, indicates that there is a huge demand on the market. Automation is predicted to have positive implications for trucking companies. With new technology set to cut costs, trucking companies may have the opportunity to expand their business models like what OEMs are doing by creating new mobility services. But this will still not be a transition without any hurdles (just like for OEMs). The “same issues” are relevant. Issues such as; how to handle edge-cases, how to create a viable business around a technology that requires a huge initial investment, having a legal framework in place for mass introduction and making sure the infrastructure is ready, are still issues that need to be addressed.
Written by Mahdere DW Amanuel, RISE.
1. 2020-01-23. Waymo expands autonomous truck testing to Texas and New Mexico.