Self-driving tech company Waymo and logistics giant UPS are doing what they can to ensure gifts and goods get delivered during the holiday season.
With the nation's freight logjam far from resolved, the two companies said Wednesday they are expanding their partnership. Waymo's trucking division, Via, will deliver packages with its Class 8 trucks between UPS' North American Air Freight hub in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston.
This marks a step up from their previous work together, focused on small package volume deliveries between local locations in metro Phoenix.
While the plot may be too dry for a Christmas-is-imperiled Hollywood script, it is straightforward: Government officials, logistics players and retailers are all warning the supply-chain bottleneck could cause widespread delivery delays throughout the holidays. Waymo and UPS may save the day.
Using trucks equipped with Waymo's fifth-generation self-driving system, the companies will conduct autonomous trial runs between the UPS facilities. While the tests are scheduled to run only through the end of December, they'll help Waymo better understand how to refine the operational aspects of its delivery business and measure the performance of its newest virtual driver.
It builds upon work Waymo conducted earlier this year, testing the autonomous transport of goods along Interstate 45 with logistics company J.B Hunt.
Perhaps the Waymo-UPS expansion portends bigger things. Like many other self-driving truck companies, Waymo has been building a hub for its trucking operations on a 9-acre site in south Dallas. That's scheduled to open in the first half of 2022.