Waymo, C.H. Robinson team up for autonomous truck pilot program

February 21, 2022

Tyson Fisher

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Autonomous driving technology company Waymo, based in Mountain View, Calif., and Eden Prairie, Minn.-based C.H. Robinson are teaming up to explore autonomous trucks in logistics and supply chains.

Waymo Via, the trucking and local delivery unit of Waymo, is combining its autonomous driving technology, Waymo Driver, with C.H. Robinson’s logistics platform Navisphere. Waymo autonomous specialists with Transdev will be monitoring the trucks.

Data collected during and after the test runs will help both companies “to shape the future development and expansion of autonomous driving technology as an additional transportation solution,” according to a Waymo news release. C.H. Robinson is an asset-light global logistics company. Does the Waymo long-term partnership signal changes to C.H. Robinson’s business model?

“We’re exploring a range of options for helping smaller carriers participate in a more autonomous future, including serving as an agent to help them test or choose a truck with AV technology, providing financing or buying AV trucks to lease to them. Smaller carriers and smaller customers may also need help with infrastructure,” Chris O’Brien, C.H. Robinson’s chief commercial officer, told Land Line. “Given that AV trucking will initially operate in the middle mile, freight would need to be brought to a transfer point like a terminal, depot or drop yard where an autonomous truck could take it to another transfer point for the final mile. Independent, neutral transfer hubs that anyone could use may need to be established. There’s a wide spectrum of possibilities, and we’re exploring where the opportunities and value are greatest for both our customers and carriers.”

Test runs will take place in the Dallas-Houston transportation lane.

However, Waymo Via autonomous truck drivers will haul C.H. Robinson’s freight, not truckers working for C.H. Robinson.

“Our vision is that AV technology will help create an entirely new mode of freight transportation, one that will help address the persistent shortage of long-haul truck drivers and tight trucking capacity,” O’Brien said. “And because we have the largest freight network in North America – nearly 200,000 carriers and shippers connected on one digital platform – we are the best positioned to bring the benefits of AV technology not just to the very largest of trucking firms who will be the early adopters, but to the small and mid-sized carriers who represent the vast majority of trucking firms.” LL

More autonomous truck coverage:
How will autonomous trucks affect owner-operators?
NHTSA expects to see thousands of Level 2 autonomous crash reports annually.  
Paccar launches autonomous truck pilot program with Aurora and FedEx.

 Contributing Editor-at-Large John Bendel contributed to this report.

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Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.