SAN FRANCISCO and PHOENIX — Autonomous trucking technology developer Embark Trucks, Inc. and Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings Inc. announced Tuesday the launch of the Truck Transfer Program, which is intended to give Knight-Swift and its drivers direct access to Embark’s technology.
The Truck Transfer Program marks the first public initiative through which a U.S. carrier will directly own and maintain an Embark-equipped truck and is a major step on the path to eventual purchase and ownership of Embark-equipped trucks by carriers.
To date, Embark and other autonomous developers have operated a testing model in which they own, maintain and dispatch autonomous trucks, placing their own drivers behind the wheel during hauls for shipper and carrier partners. This configuration has generated valuable early insights into real-world technology performance and how best to integrate Embark-equipped trucks within existing supply chain operations.
The Truck Transfer Program is an industry-first testing configuration that aims to unlock the next level of development necessary for commercialization. It marks the first time that the carrier – Knight-Swift – will own an autonomous truck, maintain and deploy the truck, and place their own driver behind the wheel.
This will allow Embark and Knight-Swift to collect detailed driver feedback on the technology’s performance, define how the system will improve driver jobs and develop procedures and tools that enable Knight-Swift to maintain, inspect, dispatch and remotely monitor Embark-equipped trucks.
Currently, Knight-Swift and Embark are preparing the truck technology and carrier process flows necessary for the launch of this industry-first program. Embark plans to equip a set of Knight-Swift trucks from the carrier’s slated 2022 OEM deliveries with the Embark Universal Interface.
The two companies are also developing workflows to account for truck maintenance, dispatching and IT integration points, among other things.
Embark plans to deliver the first Embark-equipped trucks to Knight-Swift for use in daily operations by the end of 2022..
The program will help Knight-Swift determine how best to utilize its limited driver workforce to address the growing demands of the national supply chain, such as when to have drivers haul loads alongside autonomous capacity when to have drivers team-drive with the Embark Driver, or under what circumstances to have drivers move local hauls to fulfill the last mile. Overall, the program will help define the proper blend of models to apply across the network over time.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.