Waymo and Daimler Partner to Build Robotic Trucks

Kathryn Underwood - Author

Oct. 28 2020, Updated 10:48 a.m. ET

After working independently for years on developing self-driving trucks, Waymo and Daimler have announced a partnership to achieve that goal. Waymo’s autonomous driving technology will be integrated into Daimler’s line of Freightliner Cascadia semi-trailer trucks, according to The Verge

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About Daimler trucks

Daimler is the parent company of Mercedez-Benz. In 2015, the company announced its plans for an autonomous big rig, the Freightliner Inspiration Truck. At the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show, Daimler revealed the prototype of its self-driving truck. 

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Daimler will be the fifth auto manufacturer to commit to using Waymo’s AV technology in its vehicles. The companies plan to deploy “SAE L4 trucks.” SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) taxonomy has standardized self-driving vehicle operations and safety. 

Under the SAE guidelines, “Level 4, or L4, vehicles can operate without a human driver behind the wheel but only within a specific geographic location, on a certain type of roadway, or under specific conditions, like good weather,” according to The Verge.

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At first, the partnership will focus on installing Waymo’s software, computing system, laser lidar sensors, cameras, and radar onto the Freightliner Cascadia trucks. Neither of the companies has said when the robotic semi trucks will be available to U.S. customers.

The partnership doesn't involve any financial investment. The partnership is only a “technical cooperation,” as Daimler Truck Chairman Martin Daum said, according to Forbes.

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Who owns Waymo?

Waymo, which is based in Mountain View, Calif., is a self-driving car company owned by Google’s Alphabet. Although ride-hailing through the company's Waymo One service is a big part of its business, it's still mainly based in the Phoenix area. 

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Waymo launched the Google Self-Driving Car Project 11 years ago, according to Forbes. The company also has alliances with Fiat Chrysler, Volvo Cars, and Jaguar Land Rover to incorporate self-driving technology. Waymo has struggled to get autonomous ride-sharing adopted on a wider scale, as CNBC reported in March. 

Newer automakers TuSimple, Ike, Embark, and Plus.ai are also striving to release a fully driverless truck. Uber failed in that endeavor when an autonomous vehicle killed a pedestrian in Arizona. As a result, Uber abandon its plans for a driverless truck.

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What is Waymo's current stock price?

Waymo isn't a publicly traded company, although analysts think that Alphabet may take the company public eventually. In March, CEO John Krafcik announced a $2.25 billion investment from a group of investors including Alphabet, AutoNation, Magna International, and the Andreesen Horowitz investment firm. 

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What is Daimler's current stock price?

Daimler AG stock closed on Oct. 27 at $55.15 per share—down 2.85 percent. 

Daimler Truck Financial

Daimler Truck Financial is a business unit of Mercedes-Benz. The unit's Daimler Trucks of North America makes commercial vehicles like its Freightliner Trucks and Sprinter Vans. 

The partnership with Waymo helps Daimler to be among the earliest manufacturers to sell fully autonomous trucks. Roger Nielsen, the president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America, said that the collaboration with Waymo will enable them to “provide our fleet customers with a choice among the best solutions for their individual requirements,” according to Forbes.


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