- C.R. England, Tyson Foods and Kodiak Robotics will launch autonomous truck deliveries this month, helping the carrier “better understand how autonomous vehicles fit into our fleet,” according to a Thursday news release.
- The autonomous pilot will ship Tyson products between Dallas and San Antonio, Texas. According to the refrigerated carrier, a load will shift from a C.R. England truck to an autonomous Kodiak truck and then back to C.R. England, with three trucks transporting one trailer during each trip.
- “Kodiak’s proven performance and commitment to customer success makes it a great partner to help us introduce autonomous service into our operations,” C.R. England CEO Chad England said in the release.
The Kodiak partnership marks the carrier’s first official autonomous vehicle pilot, but C.R. England expects to launch more as it continues to explore the AV space, Director of Fleet Technology and Sustainability Guy Hurst told Transport Dive.
The arrangement will last at least six months, but no end date has been set, he said. C.R. England noted it chose to partner with Kodiak due to a shared focus on safety, sustainability and reliability of service.
“In the beginning, we will measure success based on safety, on-time service, and reliability,” Hurst said.
Kodiak’s self-driving trucks will be used to haul time-sensitive protein products, but the initial stages of the pilot will have safety drivers on the trucks.
C.R. England is joining a growing number of companies taking advantage of emerging AV freight pilot programs in the Lone Star State. Partnerships between C.H. Robinson Worldwide and Waymo, FedEx and Aurora Innovation, and Schneider National and Torc Robotics have allowed traditional businesses to test the technology.
The potential transformation of the industry comes as C.R. England notes its continued commitment to customer service. The carrier’s CEO noted that drivers will interface with customers and consignees at either end of the load, preserving customer service.
“Our intent is to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for customers, whether they need their freight moved autonomously or not,” England said.
For C.R. England, the use of self-driving trucks is an opportunity to increase its capacity and expedite deliveries. The arrangement will cost C.R. England on a per-mile basis and be based on market rates, according to the carrier.
Efficiency was also a driving force for Tyson in the partnership. Autonomous trucks are part of Tyson’s overall aim to improve operations through technology, VP of Transportation Patrick Simmons said in the release.
“Autonomous trucks are just one piece of the puzzle in this innovation journey to use technology to operate more efficiently,” he said, “and to help ensure our transportation loads are delivered in a timely fashion.”