Waymo, Daimler to partner in developing self-driving semi trucks

In this news, we discuss the Waymo, Daimler to partner in developing self-driving semi trucks.

Daimler AG’s commercial truck unit and Alphabet Inc’s Waymo announced on Tuesday that they will collaborate on the development of Class 8 autonomous semi-trailers, applying Waymo’s automated system to Daimler’s Freightliner Cascadia.

Class 8 trucks are semi-trailers and other large utility vehicles with a load capacity greater than 33,000 lbs (14,969 kg). The partnership is accelerating a race to put automated heavy trucks on the road, with a handful of powerful teams pursuing commercial clients seeking to reduce reliance on human drivers.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik told a conference call that it will take time for major suppliers of Class 8 truck equipment to develop the braking, steering and other technologies needed to bring a semi-automatic to market. fully automated in high volume. “These are extremely long delays,” he said.

The deal is another victory for Waymo as it tries to bring in more established vehicle manufacturers. Waymo has also worked with U.S. truck maker PACCAR Inc, whose brands include Peterbilt and Kenworth, but said it does not have a formal development agreement with the Bellevue, Washington company. Daimler Trucks North America, whose brands include Freightliner and Western Star, and its rival PACCAR together control more than 70% of the U.S. Class 8 heavy-duty truck industry, according to John Stark, editor-in-chief of Stark’s Truck & Off-Highway Ledger.

Martin Daum, director of Daimler Trucks, said the deal with Waymo does not alter the German company’s previously announced plan to spend € 500 million on the development of automated trucks. Daum and Roger Nielsen, director of Daimler Trucks North America, said Daimler’s internal efforts to develop a robotic truck driver will continue. “Having a dual strategy approach, working with Waymo and another company, gives our clients a choice,” Nielsen said.

Waymo has been working on self-driving vehicles for over a decade, since he was part of Alphabet’s Google unit. The group initially focused on robot taxis but in 2017 established Waymo Via to build a freight delivery service using automated commercial vehicles, including heavy trucks. Daimler and PACCAR will face off against Tesla, which has announced plans to start building its automated semi-electric truck next year at a new plant in Austin, Texas.

Other heavy-duty truck makers considering putting automated vehicles into commercial service include Volkswagen AG’s Traton, which is working with Pittsburgh-based Argo and is negotiating the acquisition of Navistar International Corp. Swedish truck maker Volvo AB is collaborating with Silicon Valley chip maker Nvidia Corp in its self-driving truck efforts.

Navistar is working on automated vehicles with Chinese startup TuSimple, which in turn has development agreements with Amazon and United Parcel Service. UPS has its own automated utility vehicle development agreement with Waymo.

News Highlights:

  • Daimler Trucks North America, whose brands include Freightliner and Western Star, and its rival PACCAR together control more than 70% of America’s Class 8 heavy-duty truck industry, according to John Stark, editor-in-chief of Stark’s Truck & Off-Highway Ledger. Martin Daum, director of Daimler Trucks, said the deal with Waymo does not alter the German company’s previously announced plan to spend € 500 million on the development of automated trucks.
  • Waymo and Daimler join forces to develop autonomous semi-trailers
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