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Waymo, UPS expand autonomous freight truck tie-up ahead of holidays

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Nov 17 (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc's Waymo said on Wednesday it is expanding its partnership with United Parcel Service Inc to move freight using autonomous trucks between two of the parcel delivery company's Texas facilities during the holiday season.

Waymo Via, the company's delivery operation, began its partnership with UPS in early 2020 when it shuttled packages for the company between the Metro Phoenix area and its Tempe hub in Arizona using an autonomous minivan.

The company said trial runs would start in the coming weeks, where big rigs equipped with its fifth-generation Waymo Driver technology will deliver for UPS' North American Air Freight unit between facilities in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, Texas.

Driver shortages have hit U.S. trucking and delivery companies, most notably FedEx Corp, as they race to hire workers for the crucial holiday season when package volumes can easily double.

Waymo and UPS said the trials would help assess the impact of autonomous driving technology on safety and efficiency. (Reporting by Akash Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)