Do not count on to see many Waymo-powered autonomous large rigs within the close to future. Waymo now plans to “push again” its driverless trucking efforts and shift its consideration towards its One ride-hailing service. The transfer will assist the corporate consider making these self-driving taxis a “industrial success,” in line with co-CEOs Dmitri Dolgov and Tekedra Mawakana.
Waymo justified the choice by pointing to “important” development in demand for its robotaxis in Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Francisco. It additionally famous fast upgrades to Driver, the AI system that handles its autonomous vehicles. There’s “super momentum” in One, the co-chiefs say, and the brand new technique will assist benefit from this development.
The Alphabet-owned model nonetheless intends to work with Daimler on self-driving semi vans. It is shifting most of its technical growth towards Waymo One, however believes work on Driver (notably for freeway driving) will not directly profit trucking. There is no up to date timeline for when vans might attain the roads, however TechCrunch understands solely a handful of employees will lose jobs because of the transition. Most have taken different positions at Waymo.
Waymo began testing autonomous large rig vans in 2017, with fast expansions in 2019 and 2020 that included the launch of its Through cargo transportation division. The agency received the eye of main companions, together with UPS and former rival Uber Freight. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that Waymo One was the star and received essentially the most curiosity. Uber even expects to supply Waymo rides and deliveries in Phoenix later this yr.
The change is not assured to pan out. Whereas Waymo is nearer to providing paid rides in a number of markets, it is nonetheless going through opposition from officers who’re involved about issues of safety. Driverless vehicles have blocked visitors, interfered with first responder autos and in any other case brought on issues, and there is a name for regulators to restrict simply the place and when robotaxis can function.