Embark Debuts Universal Interface to Enable Self-Driving Trucks

EmbarkTrucks UI 400x275

March 31, 2021

Embark, which develops autonomous technology for the trucking industry, has launched its Embark Universal Interface (EUI), a set of standardized self-driving components and the flexible interfaces needed for major truck OEMs to integrate autonomous technology onto their vehicle platforms.

The company said it is pursuing integration with all four major U.S. OEMs: Freightliner, International, Peterbilt, and Volvo trucks. Embark said it is building the first universal system intentionally designed to integrate into any platform. “Embark has designed its system from the beginning to work across platforms, a decision that has required an immense amount of upfront investment and thoughtfulness around cross-platform trade-offs,” the company said in a statement. “The EUI effort is the manifestation of this philosophy into a product.”

Autonomous systems developers and OEMs have entered several non-exclusive partnerships during the last few years. Embark said it made a decision in early 2020 to pursue a different approach to OEM integration. “Trucking OEMs have a long tradition of offering trucks with key components sourced from multiple suppliers, including engines, transmissions, and braking systems, in response to carrier demand,” said Embark. “By developing a strong technology platform that can be rapidly integrated on all major OEM trucks, Embark will provide OEMs with autonomous technology that is most responsive to their carrier customers’ needs.”

The universal interface has achieved this through a two-part design. First is a standardized components package that includes sensors and a compute system, developed through thousands of hours of design, testing, and analysis. The second part is a set of physical, electrical, and software interfaces that enable the standardized components package to connect to and communicate with any OEM platform’s steering, braking, throttle, telematics, power, chassis, and HVAC systems. 

EmbarkGateway400pxThe center of the interface package is the Embark Gateway (pictured, right), an automotive-grade ECU developed by Embark to enable API communication between their technology and any OEM platform, Embark added.

“We absolutely believe that integrating with OEMs is the path to market for self-driving trucks,” said Alex Rodrigues, co-founder and CEO of Embark. “We also believe that being cross-compatible and easy to integrate into all OEM’s vehicles as their Level 4 platforms continue to develop gives us a competitive advantage.”

“We’ve seen time and again how the emergence of an open platform can serve as a galvanizing force in fast-developing markets, and this breakthrough technology from Embark has a chance to do the same for what’s historically been a complex and fragmented industry,” said Pat Grady a partner at Sequoia Capital, an investor in Embark. “This is a huge step forward both for Embark and for the entire trucking industry.”

Embark said most major carriers see maintaining multi-OEM fleets as a key element of their business strategy. “We currently purchase trucks from multiple OEMs and plan to continue this strategy to optimize the experience for our drivers and meet our Total Cost of Ownership objectives,” said Trevor Fridfinnson, COO at Bison Transport. “Embark’s investment to integrate its autonomous driving system with the major OEMs will allow us to test and deploy autonomous trucking capabilities without introducing a new OEM into our fleet for that sole purpose.”

For more details on Embark, head to its website.

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