Waymo is the latest autonomous-truck company to partner with Ryder to help scale its operations, following a July announcement of a Ryder deal with TuSimple. It also announced it’s growing its trucking footprint in Texas with a dedicated trucking hub.
Ryder has a national network of more than 500 facilities that will offer access to standardized fleet maintenance across one network for all Waymo Via hubs and testing sites. The partnership will help maximize uptime and ensure the reliability needed to scale autonomous operations.
Ryder will handle regularly scheduled preventive maintenance services and as-needed incidental maintenance for Waymo trucks, as well as roadside service between hubs. The company is working with Waymo on guidelines for maintenance practices on Waymo’s autonomously driven vehicles.
“Partner services, like those offered by Ryder, will be a key component of our Driver-as-a-Service model,” said Rocky Garff, Waymo head of trucking operations, in a blog post. “With Ryder, we’re developing first-of-their-kind best practices for autonomous truck maintenance that will maximize vehicle uptime and reliability and ensure a seamless and efficient experience for our customers.”
The partnership is starting by focusing on fleet management across Waymo Via trucking hubs and testing sites in Texas, Arizona, California, Ohio, and Michigan, with plans to expand as Waymo does.
Longer term, Garff said, the partnership will help Waymo optimize the performance of its autonomous trucks, something Ryder is keenly interested in, as well.
“While this partnership initially focuses on fleet maintenance, we see many opportunities to collaborate on autonomous trucking operations in order to successfully deploy these trucks at scale,” said Karen Jones, chief marketing officer and head of new product development for Ryder, in a news release.
Waymo, too, sees the partnership as the beginning of something broader. “Over time, we see tremendous opportunity to expand our collaboration to accelerate the broad deployment of autonomous trucks,” Garff said.
Waymo building trucking hub in Dallas
Ryder also has provided feedback on the layout and design for a new dedicated trucking hub Waymo is building in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, “to ensure it’s optimized for serviceability of trucks and for the transfer hub model we’re pursuing in the near term,” Garff said.
The new 9-acre trucking hub in South Dallas comes as Waymo grows its footprint in Texas across I-10, I-20, and I-45. It will be built from the ground up specifically for Waymo Via and its autonomous driving operations.
The new hub will be Waymo’s primary operations center in Texas, designed for commercial use with its carrier partners. It will “be able to accommodate hundreds of trucks and personnel as we scale our presence in the region and enable increasingly large and complex testing needs on our path to fully autonomous operations,” Garff said. “This hub will not only bolster our operations in Texas but is also well-suited to support long haul routes across the Southwest and connect with our Phoenix operations center.”
The facility is scheduled to be completed in early 2022.
It’s part of Waymo scaling up operations across Texas, Arizona, and California, to support initiatives such as testing of its fifth-generation Waymo Driver on Class 8 trucks, hauling freight for companies such as J.B. Hunt, and working with Daimler Trucks to develop a robust SAE Level-4 autonomous redundant vehicle platform.
Ryder aims for autonomous-truck leadership
Waymo isn’t the only autonomous-truck company Ryder will be working with.
“Autonomous Class 8 technology is quickly taking hold, and Ryder is poised to become a leader — not only in servicing trucks but also in managing the unique logistics of autonomous operations,” said Ryder’s Jones.
Ryder is talking to multiple players in the autonomous space and has been for some time, a company spokesperson told HDT on background, as part of its goal to bring the best of new technologies to customers.
In July, Ryder and TuSimple announced that select Ryder fleet maintenance facilities will serve as terminals in TuSimple’s autonomous freight network. The companies will work together to identify existing Ryder facilities to serve as the start and end point for autonomous driving missions.