- J.B. Hunt and Waymo’s autonomous vehicle pilot in Texas will deliver shipments for Wayfair beginning this summer, the companies announced late last month.
- A driver and a software technician will monitor the Waymo Driver autonomous driving system from the cab as the Class 8 AV hauls the furniture retailer’s products along the I-45 corridor between Houston and Dallas, the route where the carrier debuted the truck technology last year.
- The pilot will operate for more than six weeks in July and August, providing Wayfair with “real-time testing” of the AV’s capabilities, Craig Harper, J.B. Hunt chief sustainability officer and executive vice president, said in the announcement.
J.B. Hunt and Waymo’s 260-mile test AV truck pilot last summer hauled more than 862,000 pounds of freight with no accidents and a “100% on-time pick-up and delivery” rate, according to the companies.
But they declined, at the time, to reveal whose products the trucks were hauling — describing the business only as “one of J.B. Hunt’s leading customers.”
The selection of Wayfair as the pilot’s first publicly identified user this summer underscores J.B. Hunt and Waymo’s ambitions for handling the trickiest — and most unwieldy — types of freight, which include furniture.
“Every supply chain is unique, so it’s important that customers can work alongside J.B. Hunt and Waymo to ensure that advanced autonomous technology will create capacity that meets their needs,” Harper said.
Wayfair’s first foray into large-scale, AV freight handling provides the retailer a chance to share feedback with the carrier and its tech partner on the pilot from the perspective of a high-volume shipper offering over 33 million products from 23,000 suppliers.
Sean Halligan, Wayfair’s chief global supply chain officer, said in a statement that the AV pilot is part of the furniture retailer’s “overall strategy to evolve our logistics strategies and end-to-end supply chain solutions.”
The pilot will further evaluate the Waymo Driver and J.B. Hunt 360’s capabilities, including automated delivery logistics, freight loading and unloading, check calls and other autonomous functions. J.B. Hunt 360 is the company’s digital loadboard.
“We couldn’t be more delighted to work alongside companies who share our innovative spirit and excitement for what autonomous driving technology can mean for the trucking industry,” said John Verdon, trucking lead, business development and partnerships at Waymo.