April 7, 2022
Self-driving trucking company Kodiak Robotics has announced a partnership with U.S. Xpress to launch Level 4 autonomous freight service between the Dallas-Fort Worth and Atlanta route, using Kodiak’s self-driving trucks. U.S. Xpress will become a cornerstone truckload partner in Kodiak’s Partner Deployment Program, working with Kodiak to deploy the self-driving technology. The partnership also marks the launch of the first commercial autonomous trucking lane to the East Coast, the companies said.
A Kodiak truck and U.S. Xpress trailers completed a pilot, hauling freight in four round-trips (eight segments) for approximately 6,3550 miles between Dallas and Atlanta in late March. The truck ran 24 hours a day for 131 total hours, about 5.5 full days. Kodiak said the results represent more than 100% increase in utilization compared to a traditional truck and professional driver with 11 hours of service limit. By increasing the number of hours a truck can be used per day to 20-plus hours, autonomous trucks give carriers the ability to haul more freight with fewer trucks, increasing revenue while decreasing costs. As part of the partnership, a Kodiak autonomous tractor picked up and delivered U.S. Xpress pre-loaded trailers, and a rotating team of four professional Kodiak safety drivers oversaw the autonomous system.
“This pilot demonstrated to our operations teams and our customers the benefits that can come with autonomous technology,” said Eric Fuller, president and CEO of U.S. Xpress. “We fundamentally believe that Kodiak’s autonomous technology will allow us to scale our fleet while increasing truck utilization compared to a human-driven truck. Our strategic partnership is helping both of our teams identify ways to quickly integrate and scale autonomous technology into our fleet once it is commercially available.” U.S. Xpress isalso working with Aurora Innovation on its fleet of autonomous trucks.
The Dallas-to-Atlanta route is a good entry point for autonomous trucking operations because it is slightly longer than what a driver is permitted to operate in a day, but also too short to economically run as a team.
“Our partnership with U.S. Xpress marks our service expansion to the East Coast,” said Don Burnette, founder and CEO of Kodiak. “We believe it is the furthest east any company has delivered multiple loads using autonomous technology. Having the capacity to sustain 24/7 operations across the more than 750 miles between Dallas and Atlanta – two of our nation’s busiest freight hubs – represents a giant step forward for Kodiak, and for the AV trucking industry as a whole. We chose to make U.S. Xpress a cornerstone partner in our Partner Deployment Program because we see U.S. Xpress and its Variant division as ideal long-term partners for the deployment and scaling of our autonomous long-haul solution.”
Kodiak said it will continue to haul freight with U.S. Xpress between Dallas and Atlanta, as well as other lanes within the Kodiak network. In addition to that route, Kodiak said it has been delivering freight daily on the 240-mile lane from Dallas to Houston since mid-2019, and on the 280-mile lane between Dallas and San Antonio since mid-2021. The company also recently announced the launch of commercial operations between Dallas and Oklahoma City, working with logistics provider CEVA Logistics.
For more details on Kodiak Robotics and its technologies, visit its website here.