Werner Enterprises, one of the largest trucking companies in the U.S., announced a new, expanded partnership with Kodiak Robotics, a leading developer of autonomous trucking solutions. Kodiak plans to use this partnership to bolster its market share and show how its long-haul transfer hub system can improve efficiency.
Kodiak plans to use program to create national autonomous trucking lanes
Kodiak’s transfer hub model is fairly straightforward. The company’s trucks, accompanied by a human safety driver per federal regulations, operate in a self-driving mode autonomously along the interstate or major highway portion of a designated corridor.
The Kodiak truck takes the load to a truckport located along the route, where the trailer is dropped off, inspected, and another loaded trailer is picked up for the return trip. After the drop-off, a local company driver picks up the trailer and delivers it to its final destination.
These local company drivers are also responsible for getting loads from shippers to the truckports to be picked up by the Kodiak autonomous trucks. According to Kodiak, the truckport transfer hub model maximizes the amount of time the truck spends in self-driving mode.
Think of it as more of a relay system in use by FedEx or other less-than-truckload carriers, where they change trailers at predetermined intervals. The program aims to get drivers home more because they’ll be driving more regional routes.
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“Werner’s vision for incorporating autonomous trucks into their future operations demonstrates a fundamental understanding of where autonomous technology fits within the trucking industry. The Kodiak Driver is designed to do the often-undesirable highway portions of long-haul routes, allowing drivers to handle the deliveries that let them sleep in their own beds at night. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Werner and introducing new permanent lanes together.” – Kodiak founder and CEO Don Burnette in a press release.
Back in August, Werner began a week-long pilot program in which a Kodiak autonomous truck completed four 1,900-mile round-trip tours between Dallas, Texas and Lake City, Florida. A total of 152 hours of driving time were completed during the one-week pilot with 100% on-time delivery performance.
The Omaha, Nebraska-based Werner will now run freight in an expanded, 24/7 operation along the autonomous corridor from Dallas to Lake City. This is one of the first large-scale, constant usage deployments of a Level 4-capable autonomous truck.
You can read the complete press release from Werner and Kodiak by following this link.