• Self-Driving Tractor-Trailers

U.S. Xpress & Werner Enterprises Test Self-Driving Tractor-Trailers

Kodiak Robotics and Aurora Innovation are new start-ups in the high-tech transportation industry, and they’re already making waves with their innovative and cost-saving technology. These companies are developing self-driving trucks that they believe will revolutionize the trucking industry – and they might be right.

Aurora and Kodiak’s trucks are equipped with advanced sensors and cameras that allow them to navigate the roads safely, even in adverse conditions. And because they’re autonomous, the trucks can run 24/7 – meaning that companies can get their goods delivered faster and with fewer delays.

But it’s not just about efficiency – these trucks are also much safer than traditional trucks, thanks to their advanced safety features. In fact, Kodiak’s trucks have logged lots of miles already and have been involved in zero accidents.

More trucking companies and private fleets embrace innovative tech

Kodiak Robotics recently announced a strategic partnership with CEVA Logistics and U.S. Xpress, two of the nation’s largest trucking companies. The partnerships will enable the companies to utilize Kodiak’s self-driving technology to operate a fully autonomous fleet of trucks on select routes within their networks.

This is a significant milestone as this is one of the first times a self-driving truck company has partnered with industry-leading trucking companies. And it’s likely that we’ll see more partnerships like these soon as more and more trucking companies and private fleets begin to realize the benefits of self-driving trucks.

Waymo, a sub-company under Alphabet Inc., is already testing these self-driving trucks between Dallas and other transport hubs. In June, Waymo began a series of test runs with their line of Via trucks in partnership with UPS and J.B. Hunt. Waymo constructed a 9-acre facility, which will create hundreds of jobs in Dallas.

Test Runs – How did they do?

U.S. Xpress completed 6,350 miles across Dallas and Atlanta using one of Kodiak’s autonomous trucks. For safety, the truck traveled with four drivers in the front seat for 131 hours – nearly six days. The test was completed without any accidents or incidents.

Compared to a standard vehicle and professional driver with an 11-hour service restriction, the statistics show a more than 100% improvement in utilization. Autonomous trucks will allow carriers to move more freight with fewer trucks by raising the number of hours a truck may be operated each day to 20+ hours, increasing income while lowering costs.

“This pilot demonstrated to our Operations Teams and our Customers the benefits that can come with autonomous technology,” says Eric Fuller, CEO of U.S. Xpress.

This is a big win for Kodiak Robotics, and it shows that their technology is ready for prime time. With more test runs like this, it’s only a matter of time before we see self-driving trucks on the roads every day.

“Our partnership with U.S. Xpress marks our service expansion to the East Coast,” – said Don Burnette, Founder of Kodiac Robotics.

Aurora has also collaborated with one of the country’s largest trucking companies – Werner Enterprises – to pilot its self-driving trucks. The partnership will see Aurora outfitting Werner’s trucks with its self-driving technology, which will be tested on select lane-specific routes within the company’s network.

As a test, Werner tractors will be driven by Aurora around Fort Worth and El Paso. The program will start small, with only a few trucks on the road to begin. But if all goes well, we could see a lot more of Aurora’s self-driving trucks on the roads in the near future.

“We look forward to building a hybrid world where drivers continue to haul freight while autonomous trucks supplement rising demand,” says Derek Leathers, CEO of Werner.

During the test runs of J.B. Hunt and Waymo’s partnership, the company reported zero accidents or speeding violations. A trained driver was present for every ride to ensure that a human could take over the wheel if something went wrong.

Self-driving tractor-trailers are the next big thing in trucking. There is a great deal of hype around this technology, and for a good reason – self-driving trucks offer considerable benefits to companies that invest in them now.

They offer higher levels of efficiency with fewer delays due to accidents and weather conditions thanks to their autonomous nature, which means they can run 24/7.

More and more trucking companies are beginning to see the benefits of self-driving trucks and are partnering with companies like Kodiak Robotics and Aurora to test their technologies. 

If the test runs are successful, we might see a lot more self-driving trucks on the roads. This would revolutionize the trucking industry and change the way we ship goods around the country.


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