UPS will make deliveries using Google’s sibling company Waymo heavy trucks, the companies announced in November.
Waymo began as the Google Self-Driving Car Project in 2009, and is now the autonomous driving subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. The startup has driven more than 20 million miles on public roads across 10 U.S. states and 20 billion miles in simulation.
In January, UPS and Waymo announced they would conduct deliveries from UPS stores in the metro Phoenix area to the UPS Tempe hub using Chrysler Pacifica minivans powered by Waymo’s autonomous driving system, the Waymo Driver.
Now the companies have expanded their partnership to freight hauling using Waymo’s autonomous Class 8 trucks, the heaviest class of truck. Waymo’s autonomous delivery division, Waymo Via, had previously conducted autonomous Class 8 trial runs with major U.S. trucking firm J.B. Hunt.
“As we enter into the holiday season, this year’s delivery demand and the need for freight movement remains unprecedented, and Waymo Via will help fill critical needs for our partners during this time,” Waymo said in a statement. “While it’s still early days, this partnership with UPS is a great example of how Waymo Via is creating an autonomous delivery solution spanning trucking and local delivery that can offer customers unique safety benefits, network flexibility, and scalability.”
The new trial runs will take place in Texas, “where the Waymo Driver will deliver for UPS’s North American Air Freight unit between facilities in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston,” Waymo said in a statement. “We hope to gather early learnings about how autonomous driving technology can help enhance safety and efficiency, evaluate the performance of the autonomous system and successful delivery of freight, and understand how to refine our autonomous operations in this use case for eventual scaling.”