Oct 27, 2020 - Economy

Waymo in deal to automate Freightliner semi-trucks

Sketch of a Freightliner semi truck outfitted with Waymo's self-driving technology

Waymo's sensors and software will enable Freightliner trucks to drive themselves. Photo: Waymo

Waymo, which recently opened up its driverless taxi service to the public in Phoenix, is now partnering with Daimler Trucks to deploy fully autonomous Freightliner semi-trucks in the U.S.

Why it matters: Robotaxis will be slow to roll out city by city, but self-driving trucks are somewhat easier to deploy on highways, with the potential to improve safety and efficiency for fleet customers while addressing a nationwide shortage of truck drivers.

What's happening: Waymo, the leader in self-driving technology, will supply its "driver" for a specially equipped version of Daimler's Freightliner Cascadia.

  • Waymo says its driving software is essentially the same for passenger cars and trucks, but Daimler must first develop a chassis with redundant brakes, steering and powertrain controls to enable autonomy.
  • The truck will be available to customers in the U.S. "in the coming years," the companies said, and potentially in other markets in the future.
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