LOWELL, Ark. — J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. and Waymo, an autonomous driving technology developer, announced Tuesday that the latest development in their collaboration on autonomous trucking technology will include a pilot program delivering goods for J.B. Hunt customer Wayfair.
The latest pilot will span six-plus weeks during July and August and take place along the Interstate 45 corridor between Houston and Dallas, the location of J.B. Hunt and Waymo’s original pilot nearly one year ago, according to a J.B. Hunt news release.
It will be the first in-depth transportation of home furnishings retail freight between J.B. Hunt and Waymo Via (the company’s autonomous Class 8 trucking unit powered by the Waymo Driver™ technology).
“Real-time testing with customers like Wayfair is critical to making autonomous freight movement a viable solution in the future,” Craig Harper, chief sustainability officer and executive vice president at J.B. Hunt, said. “Every supply chain is unique, so it’s important that customers can work alongside J.B. Hunt and Waymo to ensure that advanced autonomous technology will create capacity that meets their needs. Through shared experiences, technology integration and innovative thinking, autonomous technology can help us advance J.B. Hunt’s mission to create the most efficient transportation network in North America.”
Throughout the multi-week pilot, J.B. Hunt, Waymo and Wayfair will monitor and evaluate data relating to delivery logistics, loading and unloading freight, autonomous performance, and factors influencing the overall driving and non-driving experience. The pilot will use J.B. Hunt 360°® technology to automate several processes such as check calls and transactions to improve driving efficiency.
Autonomous specialists — a commercially licensed driver and a software technician — will be in the cab for the duration of each trip to monitor the Waymo Driver’s operations.
“Expanding our alliance with J.B. Hunt and beginning to move freight together for Wayfair is an exciting next step toward applying the Waymo Driver technology to commercial goods delivery,” John Verdon, trucking lead, business development and partnerships at Waymo, said. “We couldn’t be more delighted to work alongside companies who share our innovative spirit and excitement for what autonomous driving technology can mean for the trucking industry.”
Following a successful pilot in 2021, J.B. Hunt and Waymo extended their collaboration earlier this year with a long-term vision to complete the first fully autonomous commercial freight transport.
During the pilot, more than 862,000 pounds of freight were moved, with no accidents and 100% on-time pick-up and delivery, the news release stated.
This will be Wayfair’s first large-scale, hands-on experience using Level 4 autonomous vehicle technology to transport freight.
Wayfair offers more than 33 million home decor products from more than 23,000 suppliers.
“At Wayfair, innovation is at the core of everything we do, and this pilot with J.B. Hunt and Waymo is a great example of this,” Sean Halligan, Wayfair’s chief global supply chain officer, said. “We’re excited to continue our work with J.B. Hunt and their willingness to collaborate with us on this autonomous commercial vehicle test as a part of our overall strategy to evolve our logistics strategies and end-to-end supply chain solutions.”
As part of their long-term collaboration, J.B. Hunt and Waymo are exploring technology integration opportunities with J.B. Hunt 360.
“For example, the J.B. Hunt 360box® drop-and-hook freight program that includes more than 12,000 available trailers has the potential to provide a near-term, efficient solution for shippers that would make autonomous driving technology available in the digital freight marketplace for the first time,” according to the news release.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.