UPS and Waymo have agreed to team up in an experiment designed to strengthen and speed up the UPS supply chain via the use of self-driving cars. As part of the deal, Waymo will supply autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivan cars to UPS from their Alphabet subsidiary, which will then be responsible for transporting parcels to a sorting center from UPS warehouses.
UPS stated that the aim of the experiment is not to ensure direct delivery to the customer but simply to transport packages aboard Waymo’s autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans. At the time of going to press, the two partners have not yet provided more details on the number of autonomous minivans to be used in the experiment nor on the duration of the project.
The experimental project is set to be tested in Arizona, in the metropolitan area of Phoenix, where Waymo has opened its first on-demand autonomous vehicle service. During the extensive testing process that Waymo will carry out with UPS, a safety driver will be present in the car to take control of the vehicle in case of unforeseen problems.
The two partners hope that the ambitious project will demonstrate just how much autonomous vehicles can strengthen the delivery network and improve customer service.
According to Scott Price, chief strategy and transformation officer at UPS, the project will enable UPS to rout parcels to sorting centers more frequently and more quickly, while also enabling a return service the next day, helping deliver more added value for UPS customers.
UPS and Waymo have already gone on record to state their ambition to develop a long-term cooperation plan in the event of a successful conclusion to the trials.
The project is an opportunity for Waymo to further understand and develop another link in the logistics chain with the company announcing plans to test autonomous trucks on the roads of Texas. Waymo hopes to make its technology profitable by diversifying its activities as much as possible.
The project is also key for UPS in its quest to stay ahead of the competition by optimizing its logistics chain. In seeking to achieve this, the company is carrying out numerous experiments, using both autonomous trucks and drones with the company having particularly high hopes for the Waymo partnership.