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Waymo, J.B. Hunt Sign Deal for Self-Driving Trucks in Texas

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(Bloomberg) -- Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo signed a multiyear deal with J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. to haul freight using autonomous trucks in Texas, its latest bid to reshape transportation with self-driving technology.

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Robot big rigs with Waymo technology will start commercial trips “in the next few years,” the companies said in a statement Friday, without offering specific dates or financial terms. Waymo also agreed to work on integrations with J.B. Hunt’s freight management service.

The move is part of a broader effort to automate the trucking and logistics industry, with companies ranging from FedEx Corp. to Uber Technologies Inc. taking part. But safety advocates have questioned the technology and pushed for more regulation.

The new deal builds on Waymo’s existing partnership with J.B. Hunt. In June, the two companies announced trials of self-driving freight service between Houston and Fort Worth, Texas. By December, Waymo shared that the tests had delivered over 862,000 pounds of freight without any speeding incidents or accidents. Waymo has also announced a partnership with United Parcel Service Inc.

In a note Friday, Credit Suisse analyst Dan Levy said the announcement suggested Waymo would become a key competitor to autonomous trucking companies like TuSimple Holdings Inc. Shares of TuSimple fell as much as 6.3% to $23.91 on Friday.

(Added analyst commentary and TuSimple shares in fifth paragraph.)

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