This fireside chat recap is from Day 2 of FreightWaves LIVE @HOME.

FIRESIDE CHAT TOPIC: Charting the path to autonomous trucking  

DETAILS: The pursuit of autonomous commercial trucking that doesn’t require a human driver is a horse race among six startups seeking an advantage to cement a lead. Though it started in only March 2020, Waymo Via benefits from Waymo’s driverless ride-hailing service. Advantages include accumulated data and lessons learned all the way back to the Google self-driving car project.

SPEAKER: Shai Ben Nun, product manager, Waymo Via

BIO: Nun is responsible for defining operations of the Waymo Via autonomous trucking unit. Prior to Waymo, he worked to scale Prime Video and Alexa software, hardware and machine learning at Amazon. He started his career at Intel as an engineer and architect focused on hardware design and later worked at Snap Inc. 



“A horse race can be a very positive experience. When you think about it, you push each other to go faster and beyond the boundaries of what you would have done if it was only you on the racetrack. So, it is a really positive thing for us to succeed and move fast in this industry together.”

“It’s not going to be necessarily the winner takes it all kind of situation.There’s definitely enough room for multiple players. We are planning to be the first but being first doesn’t mean there are not going to be others that are going to succeed with us.”

“When you learn how to drive, there’s a lot of similarities between driving a truck and driving a car. As we went through, we learned there is so much transfer between [Waymo and Waymo Via] that it’s almost like a flywheel effect. We pretty much took the same sensor suite that we had on the cars. As far as the software, much of it was surprisingly robust. The AI and the [machine learning] that we created worked really well on freeways.”

Related articles:

A virtual ride-along in Waymo Via’s latest Class 8 autonomous truck

Waymo deepens investment in autonomous trucking

Daimler, Waymo joining forces to build autonomous Freightliner Cascadia

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.