2021-08-18 by W.M.
Waymo building autonomous trucking hub in Dallas-Fort Worth – Roadshow
Waymo is building a new dedicated trucking hub in Texas’ Dallas-Fort Worth area. The facility will serve as the base of Waymo Via, its trucking and local delivery unit, and its operations throughout the southeast United States. The news is coupled with the announcement of a new partnership with Ryder trucking and fleet management to support Waymo’s fleet of autonomous trucks nationwide.
Bolstered by its previously announced partnership with Daimler Trucks to develop an SAE Level 4 autonomous truck platform, Waymo Via has since expanded testing to bring theAV tech from its passenger vehicles to large Class 8 trucks for commercial shipping. It even landed itself a contract with J.B. Hunt to haul customers’ freight between Fort Worth and Houston.
The new nine-acre South Dallas hub is yet another big investment in autonomous trucking in Texas and will serve as Waymo Via’s primary operations center in the state. Built from the ground up to accommodate today’s commercial autonomous operations and testing, as well as Waymo’s future plans to build a network of autonomous trucking transfer hubs, the facility will help connect with Waymo Via’s Phoenix, Arizona operations center to expand the brand’s presence in the southeastern region.
The transfer hub model proposes using Level 4 autonomous trucks that operate in platoons on the highway to shuttle goods between regional hubs — large facilities where these loads are dropped and transferred to smaller, likely human-piloted trucks for the final leg to their destination. The key advantage of the transfer hub model is that the autonomous trucks can run almost continuously back-and-forth between the hubs, limited only by refueling, which maximizes uptime and reduces operational cost per mile.
These hubs need to be pretty big, which is why Waymo Via’s new Dallas facility has been built to accommodate “hundreds of trucks and personnel.” Waymo expects to open the hub early next year and is currently seeking local talent to help run the joint.
It’s already getting a big leg up, thanks to the partnership with Ryder, which brings with it 90 years of experience in trucking fleet maintenance, inspections and roadside assistance as well as a national network of 500-plus maintenance facilities.
Ryder has already been brought in to consult on the design and layout of the DFW facility and, going forward, will focus on the management and maintenance of Waymo Via’s fleet across its hubs and testing sites in Texas, Arizona, California,and Michigan. Together, the companies hope to standardize future truck maintenance around the transfer hub model and further optimize Waymo’s Driver-as-a-Service autonomous trucking promise to maximize uptime and reliability, while reducing shipping costs for its commercial customers.