There’s way more autonomous trucking going on in Dallas-Fort Worth than most places in the U.S.—and Waymo is one reason why. Last week the company opened a new nine-acre autonomous trucking hub in Lancaster, just south of Dallas.
It’s a $10 million investment that’s expected to bring hundreds of jobs to the community—and advance the industry’s novel technology.
“This facility has been built from the ground up to support Waymo Via, which is our Class 8 trucking solution,” Rocky Garff, head of trucking operations for Waymo, said at a ribbon-cutting event at the hub last Wednesday. “We’re growing our operations and our investment here in Texas, and across the southwestern U.S. region. We’re super excited for what’s to come.”
“The vision is that we can launch trucks autonomously and then receive them autonomously here,” Garff added as he offered a tour of the facility and its 10 truck maintenance bays, six EV charging stations, and diesel fueling operations.
Waymo currently operates 20 autonomous trucks out of the hub, with plans to grow that “quite a bit” by end of year, Garff said.
Waymo’s been operating in the Dallas area since 2020
Based in Mountain View, California, Waymo is a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc. Waymo Via has been testing and driving autonomous trucks in the Dallas area since 2020. It’s now rolling freight with driverless technology between Dallas and Houston (with a backup safety driver behind the wheel and a software technician in the passenger seat).
Cameras, radar, and lidar systems on the Waymo Via trucks enable them to navigate Texas highways autonomously.
“We run our trucks 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Garff said. “I’m super focused on bringing this technology to market. We believe autonomous technology will bring safety to the roads and provide better efficiency. This facility that we’re at today, it’s nine acres. It’s built from the ground up to help us test for autonomous vehicles. It can accommodate hundreds of tractors and trailers and operators who will be here maintaining and operating the vehicles.”
The company is developing the Waymo Driver, an autonomous driving system that can control vehicles “in a safe and efficient manner.” Waymo Via is its trucking and delivery solution, and Waymo One is a ride-hailing solution currently operating in Arizona and scaling up in San Francisco.
Bringing ‘hundreds of jobs’ to the community
Michelle Peacock, Waymo’s global head of public policy, spoke at the ribbon-cutting about the new hub’s economic impact.
“This facility is going to bring hundreds of jobs in this community,” Peacock said.
Peacock praised the Texas legislature for having “the innovation and the forethought” to pass Senate Bill 2205 back in 2017. The state law implemented minimum safety standards for “autonomous vehicles” and “automated driving systems” in Texas, enabling companies like Waymo, Gatik, TuSimple, and Kodiak Robotics to launch pilot trucking operations in Texas.
Around 100 employees are already operating out of the hub now, Garff said. “As the operation moves from testing to actually autonomous movement, the type of jobs would be a little bit different,” he added. “But this facility is designed to handle hundreds of tractors and trailers. So it needs a lot of people—it’s very bustling.”
‘The home to autonomous vehicles in the U.S.’
Duane Dankesreiter, SVP for research and innovation at the Dallas Regional Chamber, says Dallas-Fort Worth holds a strong position in autonomous vehicles in the U.S.—right at the top.
“This operation and Waymo’s investment in the region further cements Dallas-Fort Worth as the home to autonomous vehicles in the U.S.,” Dankesreiter said at the opening. “It’s no coincidence. We’ve heard a little bit about the policy that got set in place in 2017. That legislation set a great foundation and a great regulatory framework for companies to set up operations in Dallas like what we’ve seen today. The autonomous trucking industry needs predictable governance. We want to make it easy for companies to grow and expand.”
Dankesreiter noted that DFW leads the U.S. in job growth, and has “added more jobs than any other U.S. market” over the last three years.
“Trade and transportation is at the top of that stack,” he said. “That’s our growth. That’s the reason this is happening. And a lot of that is happening here in southern Dallas County and in the Inland Port.
“You’re seeing innovative companies like Waymo using the region as a proving ground and innovation corridor to test emerging technologies,” he added. “They’re hiring from our strong diverse talent pool and working closely with our universities and colleges to align curriculums for the workforce of the future. It’s so important to their growth, to our companies, and our region’s growth.”