Commercializing Waymo Via

Charlie Jatt, Head of Commercialization for Trucking, Waymo, joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss commercializing and scaling Waymo Via.

The conversation begins with Charlie discussing why Waymo entered the autonomous trucking industry.

The philosophy and the theory of our technology was we’re building a driver and that driver can be used for lots of different applications, different types of vehicles. The mission of the company was always to build that technology in a way that could be applied to many different exciting use cases.

It has always been on our roadmap to explore diverse applications and trucking and logistics is a huge one of those. In 2017, when we then put our first autonomous truck on the road it was the right time for us to put that theory to test.

– Charlie Jatt

As Waymo scales up autonomous trucking operations on public roads, Charlie talks about how Waymo builds public trust with the local community, law enforcement, and first responders. Waymo is also building trust with the professional truck driver community by engaging with them and learning from their millions of miles of on-road experience.

Drivers play a very critical role for us and it is going to be a partnership between autonomous technology and professional truck drivers for many years to come.

– Charlie Jatt

Shifting the conversation to commercialization and economics, Grayson and Charlie discuss autonomous trucking and its potential impact to help reduce inflation which is currently at a 40-year high.

There is a huge opportunity for autonomous trucking to increase efficiencies in the supply chain, reduce blockages in the supply chain, reduce costs and prices in the supply chain.

– Charlie Jatt

With the driver shortage, growth of e-commerce, and a strained global supply chain, the opportunity for autonomous trucking is only growing. With this growing opportunity, Grayson asks Charlie what role market conditions play as Waymo moves further towards commercialization.

They don’t necessarily play a big role in our strategic decision-making process because the time scale that we’re talking about bringing the Waymo Via technology to market, kind of sits above some of those year-over-year changes in market conditions.

– Charlie Jatt

While market conditions can be volatile, trends tend to gain traction and grow over years. One of those trends is ESG. ESG seemingly comes up in every conversation as companies are fully committed to the trend. One of those companies is J.B. Hunt, which has gone from pilot to a long-term commercial agreement with Waymo.

Charlie pulls back the curtain and tells the story of how the partnership with J.B. Hunt evolved from a pilot to Waymo’s first fully autonomous customer through an alliance that consists of four main components.

As Waymo Via scales, the company will not become a trucking company and operate its own fleet. Waymo will be commercialized as a Driver-as-a-Service model partly through partnerships with Daimler Trucks and Ryder.

Wrapping up the conversation, Charlie shares his views on how he sees the autonomous trucking industry evolving over the next 10 years.

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Recorded on Tuesday, March 15, 2022.