- Forward Air and Kodiak Robotics are testing an AV route from Atlanta to Dallas through multiple round-trip deliveries on a weekly basis, the companies announced March 16.
- With a safety driver team overseeing the system, the companies have been running autonomous freight service 24 hours per day and six days a week for a route that began in August, Kodiak Robotics co-founder and CEO Don Burnette told Transport Dive.
- Forward Air doesn’t foresee “autonomous trucks replacing independent contractor capacity,” CEO, Chairman and President Tom Schmitt said in a news release. But “this could potentially be a scalable solution for certain lanes in our network.”
A Kodiak truck has been doing the nearly 800-mile runs for Forward, delivering more than 100 loads and driving more than 100,000 miles since starting in August, Burnette said in an email.
The partnership shows how AV could transform trucking — currently limited by hours of service restrictions. And it also is demonstrating the tech could cater to expedited freight that changes day to day.
The round trips happen three time a week, and Burnette said that partnership shows how Kodiak is able to meet time-sensitive deadlines.
“Kodiak currently picks up and delivers freight for Forward at their warehouses,” Burnette said. “Kodiak’s safety drivers drive the vehicles on the first- and last-mile portions of the trip, while the AV system is engaged on-highway.”
The milestones come as trucking AV companies seek full commercialization. Aurora Innovation, for example, plans to have its technology ready this year ahead of a commercial launch in 2024.
Embark’s reduction, involving approximately 230 employees, came as the company stated it could explore other sources of financing, possibly dissolve, or find “alternative uses of the company assets to commercialize its technology.”