Although Waymo scales down its autonomous truck technology, it would continue partnership with Daimler Truck North America (DTNA) to develop an autonomous truck platform further.
In its latest decision, Alphabet-backed Waymo announced that it would scale back on its autonomous truck technology and will focus entirely on its ride-hailing services. In its official announcement, Waymo noted that it would “push back” the timeline for its operational efforts for trucking. Thus, it also plans to scale back development in the unit. As a result of this decision, Waymo has also laid off a small number of employees.
Waymo’s trucking unit, Waymo Via, and its Waymo One Robotaxi division were side by side, reflecting the company’s push to make its self-driving technology a commercial reality. However, uncertainties now surround the timeline and future of its autonomous trucks.
Waymo noted that they would maintain their partnership with Daimler Truck North America (DTNA) to develop an autonomous truck platform further. The company added that its joint focus is on enhancing road safety and efficiency for fleet customers.
To achieve this, Waymo will continue investing in the development of a redundant chassis that will enable autonomous trucking. Back in 2020, Waymo originally connected with Daimler with a common goal of building “SAE Level 4 trucks”. Speaking on the development, Waymo spokesperson Katherine Barna said:
“We continue to develop a generalizable Driver that can be applied across a number of vehicle platforms and applications over time – including trucking. We’re developing a generalizable Driver, continuing our work on freeway, continuing our partnership with Daimler Truck – all of which will help us to be ready to stand up our trucking efforts when the time is right.”
Path Ahead for Waymo
Waymo’s primary objective is to create substantial value by concentrating on achieving commercial success for our ride-hailing business in the short term. They are diligently enhancing the driver technology, addressing regulatory challenges, and conducting tests to gain valuable insights for future partnerships.
Besides, Waymo firmly believes in the promising commercial potential of its trucking solution and other applications of the Waymo Driver. By prioritizing ride-hailing at present, Waymo positions itself and its partners, and customers for success across all our business lines in the future, highlighting the versatility of the Waymo Driver.
In California, lawmakers are considering a bill that might need human drivers to be present at all times in self-driving trucks. This could be a big problem for driverless trucks in the state, as experts believed that self-driving semi trucks would be a reality before robotaxis due to their simpler technology and challenges.
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