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Werner (WERN), Aurora to Test Autonomous Trucks in Texas

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Werner Enterprises (WERN - Free Report) is collaborating with Aurora Innovation, an autonomous vehicle technology company, for a pilot program to test autonomous trucks for hauling freight in Texas.

To this end, Aurora Driver-powered trucks are hauling Werner’s loads between Fort Worth and El Paso, one of the busiest freight networks in the country. The lane stretches across more than 600 miles and takes approximately nine hours to complete. The long distance makes this route unpopular among truck drivers, WERN stated. By choosing this route for the pilot program, the company is looking toward a future of deploying autonomous trucks on the less popular routes and allowing drivers to transport freight on the routes convenient for them. Werner carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

As part of the pilot project, Aurora brought two new terminal sites to build the infrastructure required to serve the route.

Regarding the pilot project, Werner’s chairman, president and CEO, Derek Leathers, said, “We look forward to building a hybrid world where drivers continue to haul freight while autonomous trucks supplement rising demand."

Amid a shortage of drivers in the trucking industry, companies have been testing autonomous trucks to haul freight. In February, Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings (KNX - Free Report) , carrying a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), entered into a partnership with Embark Trucks, Inc. to integrate Embark-equipped trucks into its own fleet. This truck transfer program marks the first time KNX will own, maintain and deploy an autonomous truck with its driver behind the wheel.

The truck transfer program will allow Knight-Swift to collect drivers’ feedback on the technology and find out ways to improve driver jobs through the system. It will also enable KNX to maintain, inspect, dispatch and remotely monitor Embark-equipped trucks by developing procedures and tools.

In January, J.B. Hunt Transport Services (JBHT - Free Report) , carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), announced a long-term collaboration with autonomous driving technology developer, Waymo, as it aims to deploy fully autonomous trucking operations in Texas over the next few years. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Through the expanded partnership, J.B. Hunt intends to conduct multiple pilot programs to access the operational capacity of Waymo Via in addressing customer needs. The deal would make Waymo Via accessible through J.B. Hunt’s digital marketplace, J.B. Hunt 360.

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