Photo courtesy of Waymo

Waymo, whose driverless minivans are already shuttling a limited number of passengers in suburban Phoenix, Arizona will soon begin delivering packages for UPS as part of a new strategic partnership announced on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Widespread use of robo-taxis is still years away, but automated trucks are quickly gaining momentum toward deployment. Waymo's ambition is to use the same self-driving technology in its minivans — what it calls the Waymo driver — to automate big rigs and delivery trucks like the ones UPS uses every day.

Details: In the first phase of their partnership, Waymo's self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans will shuttle packages from UPS Stores in the Phoenix area to the UPS hub in Tempe.

  • Waymo vehicles will drive autonomously with a trained operator on board to monitor vehicle operation.
  • The pilot will begin this quarter, with both companies working closely to develop a long-term plan.

Background: Waymo is already moving goods and not just people.

  • Last year, it started using Waymo minivans to deliver car parts for AutoNation, a business partner that helps manage the fleet of Pacificas.
  • Now, in a truly commercial deal, UPS will pay Waymo to deliver its packages.

What they're saying: Waymo sees four potential markets for its self-driving technology: ride-hailing, long-haul trucking, package delivery and eventually, personally owned vehicles.

  • "Right now the movement of things is a bigger market than the people ride-hailing market," Waymo CEO John Krafcik said in an interview with Axios. "But in 10 years, the movement of people with automated ride hailing will be substantially larger."

UPS sees an opportunity to learn how to safely integrate self-driving technology into its operations, and how to use autonomous shuttles to make more rapid turnarounds in anticipation of on-demand delivery.

  • "This is part of the learning process," said Bala Ganesh, vice president of the advanced technology group at UPS, adding: "We have more things in the hopper."

Background: UPS has been delivering cargo with self-driving trucks from TuSimple since last May, and took a minority stake in the company last August.

Go deeper: Waymo's progress on AVs seems reminiscent of Wright brothers

Go deeper

GM's high-stakes electric move

The Cadillac Lyriq. Image courtesy of Cadillac

Cadillac on Thursday unveiled the Lyriq, the luxury brand's first all-electric model and GM's first consumer electric vehicle unveil since the Chevy Bolt several years ago.

Why it matters: It's the first reveal by GM of an electric vehicle that will use the company's new modular platform and Ultium battery system — technologies meant to underpin the 20 electric vehicles that GM plans to launch by 2023.

Trump's TikTok and WeChat actions ratchet up the pressure on China

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump escalated his campaign to claw apart the Chinese and American tech worlds Thursday evening, issuing executive orders that threaten to ban both TikTok and massive global messaging app WeChat.

The big picture: Trump's orders come against a backdrop of heightening tension with China, the steady unfolding of a hard "decoupling" between the world's two largest economies, and the Trump campaign's effort to wave a "tough on China" banner.

Updated 36 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 19,128,901 — Total deaths: 715,555— Total recoveries — 11,591,028Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 4,884,406 — Total deaths: 160,111 — Total recoveries: 1,598,624 — Total tests: 59,652,675Map.
  3. Politics: Trump floats executive action even if stimulus deal is reached.
  4. Business: U.S. economy adds 1.8 million jobs in July — Household debt and credit delinquencies dropped in Q2.
  5. Sports: The pandemic's impact on how sports are played.
  6. 1 🎮 thing: Video gaming growth soars.