Self-Driving Truck Company Conducting “First-of-a-Kind” Test for UPS
Mountain View, CA – In what is being called a “first-of-a-kind partnership,” self-driving truck and technology company, Waymo, is joining forces with the United Parcel Service (UPS).
In a joint statement last week, the companies said Waymo’s autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans will soon be shuttling packages from UPS Stores in the Metro Phoenix area to the UPS Tempe, AZ hub, as part of a pilot program.
Waymo, the self-driving technology company that’s part of Alphabet (Google’s parent company) says the purpose of the new pilot program will be to explore how autonomous ground vehicles improve customer service and network efficiency with a goal of jointly developing a long-term plan for how the companies can work together.
In the Arizona pilot, the vehicle will drive autonomously with a Waymo-trained driver on board to monitor operations.
“Getting packages to our sortation facilities sooner and more frequently, while also creating an opportunity for later drop-offs for next-day service, can add enormous value for our customers,” said Scott Price, UPS chief strategy and transformation officer.
If all goes well in the Waymo-pilot, UPS could soon deploy more self-driving shuttles in other cities around the nation.
“The UPS Store is excited to participate with Waymo in this test to explore ways to provide an even better experience for customers within our network of 4,800 retail locations,” said Tim Davis, president of The UPS Store, Inc. “Moving packages out of stores more frequently can also free up valuable space for franchisees within the retail environment.”
Waymo to Test Driverless Semis in Texas and New Mexico
Last week’s announcement comes less than a week since Waymo announced it will soon be testing its “long-haul” autonomous big rigs in Texas and New Mexico.
This week, we’ll start driving our Chrysler Pacificas and long-haul trucks in Texas and New Mexico. These are interesting and promising commercial routes, and we’ll be using our vehicles to explore how the Waymo Driver might be able to create new transportation solutions. pic.twitter.com/uDqKDrGR9b
— Waymo (@Waymo) January 23, 2020
Waymo says it has already begun deploying autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans equipped with a suite of sophisticated sensors to create detailed maps of Interstates 10, 20, and 45.
The company intends for the mapping data, such as speed limits and road conditions, to be used as an aid for its self-driving semi-trucks to rely on as they navigate the major interstates.
UPS Investing in Driverless Technology
In August of 2019, UPS announced it was getting into the autonomous trucking business.
According to the the company, its venture capital arm, UPS Ventures, made a minority investment in autonomous technology developer TuSimple after completing a similar pilot program.
As part of that test, UPS provided truckloads of goods for TuSimple to carry on a North American Freight Forwarding route between Phoenix and Tucson, AZ.
TuSimple and UPS monitored distance and time the trucks traveled autonomously, safety data and transport time.
In June of 2019, TuSimple successfully completed a two-week test delivering mail along a 1,000 mile route from Phoenix to Dallas for the United States Postal Service (USPS).
TuSimple representatives reported all deliveries were made ahead of schedule and without any traffic incidents.
During the USPS test, TuSimple ran its self-driving trucks for 22 hours each, which included overnight driving along the Interstate 10, 20, and 30 corridors.
Transportation Nation Network also reported last year that TuSimple is currently operating under non-disclosure agreements with dozens of carriers, hauling three loads per day.
Though regulations currently require a human driver and engineer inside the vehicle, TuSimple’s Founder, President & CTO, Xiaodi Hou, claims that will soon change and is promising to provide commercially-viable self-driving trucks by 2023.