News & Media

  • GNA Insight

Questioning Autonomy’s Future in Commercial Transport

January 4, 2023

Source: ACT News

Technology has a way of both easing stress and causing concern, especially when safety is involved. We have seen it time and time again, from seat belts to advanced driver assistance systems, and each time a new feature is introduced, there is both applause and anxiety that follows.

Enter autonomous driving. It been a go-to in more science-fiction movies than you can count, but it has finally become a reality. Depending on the level of autonomy, drivers can sit back and take their hands off the wheel — and in some cases, their eyes as well. For companies like Waymo and Einride, this technology will define how goods and people are transported throughout the country and around the world.

Where Are We?

The news is full of stories of partnerships, technological milestones, funding campaigns, and more revolving around the autonomous vehicle (AV) industry. For some companies, like Waymo, the news is ongoing, since the AV tech developer started working in the space since 2008, when it was under the Google banner. Since then, the company has evolved, currently focusing on the Waymo One ride-hailing service and Waymo Via, its AV solution for commercial trucks.

“Our Waymo Via trucking solution is being designed to reduce the risk of incidents on the road, supplement the growing need for drivers to deliver goods, and maximize fleet uptime, ultimately ensuring shipments arrive safely, efficiently, and on-time and helping address several key challenges that exist in the industry today,” said Charlie Jatt, Waymo’s head of commercialization for trucking.

The company has also developed a local delivery service that is currently operational in Phoenix and San Francisco. According to Jatt, Waymo is exploring how the Waymo Driver technology can offer both customer and operational benefits and complete deliveries safely, efficiently, and, at some point, at scale. This project includes partners such as AutoNation, delivering car parts to and from dealerships; UPS, shuttling packages between UPS stores and its Tempe, Arizona, hub; and Albertsons, delivering groceries from select stores in the San Francisco Bay Area to customer homes.

Swedish transport company Einride is also focused on designing, developing, and deploying technologies for heavy-duty freight mobility, according to Michelle Avary, Einride’s vice president of product strategy and government affairs.

“We are working with a number of clients across the U.S. and Europe in providing them autonomous, electric, and digital shipping solutions,” said Avary. “Specifically, a number of our clients have deployed our electric heavy-duty fleets.”

Those clients include GE Appliances, Maersk, Oatly, Bridgestone, and Beyond Meat. The company’s latest pilot project of its autonomous vehicle with GE Appliances in Selmer, Tennessee recently wrapped.

“We were the first with an electric, autonomous vehicle without a safety driver on board to operate on U.S. public road,” added Avary.

Continue reading here.