Waymo will deliver home goods for Wayfair using its fleet of autonomous semi-trailer trucks, the company announced Tuesday.
The deliveries will take place as part of a pilot that’s being conducted by Waymo and JB Hunt Transport Services to test out self-driving trucks along certain shipping routes in Texas. One of JB Hunt’s customers is furniture and home goods giant Wayfair, which will begin sending out deliveries using Waymo’s fleet for a six-week test this July and August.
The deliveries will take place in Texas, with Waymo’s Class 8 autonomous truck hauling goods along Interstate 45 between facilities in Houston and Dallas, which was the route used by Waymo and JB Hunt during the original pilot last year. The trucks will operate autonomously but will be supervised by two Waymo employees, a commercially licensed driver and a software engineer, from the cab of the vehicle.
Waymo divides its autonomous efforts into two divisions: Waymo One, its consumer ride-hailing service, and Waymo Via, which is focused on goods delivery in both trucking and local delivery formats.
While its ride-sharing service makes slow progress, Waymo has made a flurry of deals in recent months aimed at growing its nascent trucking business. The Google spinoff has said it has no plans to own or operate its own fleet of trucks but will instead work with truck manufacturers, carriers, and brokers to integrate its technology into the business of hauling freight. In addition to JB Hunt, the company is also working with CH Robinson and Uber Freight, the rideshare company’s on-demand brokerage.
Currently, Waymo is testing the fifth generation of its “Driver,” which is the term it uses to describe its combination of hardware, sensors, and AI software, on its own test fleet of Class 8 trucks. The company is also collaborating with Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, on a fully autonomous Level 4 system for trucks.
Andrew J. Hawkins