Looking for ways to become more efficient, UPS is eliminating delivery drivers through a new partnership with Waymo in the Phoenix area.
The pilot program will have the delivery giant using Waymo’s self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans to deliver packages from UPS stores in the area to its nearby sorting facility in Tempe, Arizona, for processing. The minivans will have safety drivers in the front seat to monitor operations for the time being.
“UPS and Waymo are exploring automated and autonomous technologies to enhance network operations,” said Scott Price, UPS chief strategy and transformation officer.
“Getting packages to our sortation facilities sooner and more frequently, while also creating an opportunity for later drop-offs for next-day service, can add enormous value for our customers.”
For now, the two companies are just engaged in a short-term pilot program, but that could expand in the future. UPS, like many of its competitors, has been searching for ways to cut back on costs, and eliminating the need for drivers would certainly make a significant difference to the company’s bottom line.
However, for now, it’s a chance for both sides to see how such a system would work, and to implement changes to streamline it in the future. Waymo already runs several driverless shuttles carrying passengers around metro Phoenix. This program should help with that, Waymo officials note.
“Waymo’s mission is to make it safe and easy for people and things to get where they’re going, and our partnership with UPS allows us to continue developing how our Waymo Driver can facilitate pickups,” said Tekedra Mawakana, Waymo chief operating officer.
“We look forward to working alongside the UPS team to safely and efficiently deliver packages starting in Metro Phoenix.”
Waymo has been looking to expand the number of users/customers for its Waymo Driver, its name for its driverless minivans. In addition to UPS, the company has been engaged in a partnership with AutoNation, which was extended last year. The autonomous vehicle delivers auto parts on demand to various stores.
Additionally, Waymo is developing a self-driving system for freight delivery trucks, looking at New Mexico and Texas as potential routes for its autonomous tractor-trailers. UPS isn’t sitting around waiting on Waymo to move into large trucks. It’s been using self-driving trucks from a company it invested in, TuSimple, to haul cargo between Phoenix and Tucson.