Daimler Trucks / Waymo
Daimler Waymo Freightliner Promo 5f9a41dab504a

Daimler and Waymo Developing Autonomous Semi-Trucks

Oct. 29, 2020
A Freightliner Cascadia equipped for the U.S. market with Waymo Driver L4 self-driving capability will be the first target of the new global partnership.

Daimler Trucks formed a global partnership with Waymo to deploy the latter's Waymo Driver L4 autonomous technology into Class-8 commercial trucks. The first target for their efforts is a driverless version of Daimler Trucks North America's Freightliner Cascadia, equipped with Waymo Driver, will be available in the U.S.

The timing of the introduction is Freightliner uncertain, as highway semi-truck builders have not yet developed reliable steering, braking, and other systems necessary for heavy-duty trucks to operate safely without a human driver. Waymo CEO John Krafcik indicated in a conference call that fully automated semi-trucks are not imminent due to the necessity to resolve those issues. “We have the highest regard for Daimler’s engineering skills and broad global truck product portfolio," according to Krafcik, "and so we look forward to scaling the Waymo Driver, together with our new partner, to improve road safety and logistics efficiency on the world’s roadways.”

In July, truck-builder Navistar International Corp. took a minority stake in TuSimple, a self-driving technology business, and established a development partnership with the company, which they say will produce SAE Level 4 self-driving trucks by 2024.

Waymo is an Alphabet Inc. subsidiary that was launched as Google's Self-Driving Car Project more than 10 years ago. Waymo Driver is an SAE L4 technology, referring to levels of autonomous capability for vehicles. Specifically, Level 4 automation does not require human interaction in most circumstances, though a human driver is able to manually override the operation if necessary.

Earlier this year Waymo expanded a four-year-old, autonomous-driving technology partnership with Fiat Chrysler to integrate Waymo Driver for Ram ProMaster commercial vans, toward self-driving delivery vans. (TuSimple has agreements to develop self-driving delivery vehicles for Amazon and United Parcel Service.)

Waymo also has a partnership with Volvo Cars to develop self-driving, electric vehicles for ride-hailing.

"The combination of increased road-freight volumes and the need and vision of fleet operators for highly automated trucks, is what fuels our relentless pursuit of innovation," stated Roger Nielsen, president and CEO Daimler Trucks North America.

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