For self-driving truck fleets to grow, they will need places for freight transfers and maintenance. Last month, Ryder System Inc. said it is collaborating with Kodiak Robotics Inc. to use Ryder’s service network for commercializing and scaling Kodiak’s autonomous truck offering. The companies have established their first truckport at an existing Ryder fleet maintenance facility.
“Ryder’s vision is to build out a portfolio of key service elements that support the safe deployment and maintenance of autonomous trucks,” said Karen Jones, executive vice president, chief marketing officer, and head of new product development at Ryder.
“By managing the unique logistics of autonomous operations as well as the servicing needs of autonomous trucks, we continue to build on our expertise,” she added in a release. “And by collaborating with leaders in the space like Kodiak, we advance our shared goal of facilitating the commercialization of autonomous technology.”
Ryder to provide scaling support
Ryder said it provides supply chain, dedicated transportation, and fleet management solutions, including warehousing and distribution, e-commerce fulfillment, last-mile delivery, and more to major global brands. The Coral Gables, Fla.-based company manages nearly 260,000 commercial vehicles and operates about 300 warehouses including more than 95 million sq. ft. in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.
The autonomous truckport, which opened in December, will allow Kodiak to launch and land autonomous trucks, as well as transfer freight to serve routes between Houston, Dallas, and Oklahoma City, said the companies.
While the collaboration is initially focusing on the strategic Houston location, Kodiak said it could use Ryder’s extensive service network to support additional truckport operations and to provide on-site technician and maintenance services.
Kodiak Robotics to expand services
“Ryder’s industry-leading fleet services and vast footprint of service locations make it an ideal partner as we scale autonomous trucks,” stated Don Burnette, founder and CEO of Kodiak Robotics. “Expanding our network of truckports with Ryder will enable us to operate autonomous trucks at scale with our customers.”
Founded in 2018, Kodiak is developing a technology stack for long-haul trucks that it said will make the freight industry safer and more efficient. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company claimed that its modular hardware approach includes an integrated, streamlined sensor-pod structure that optimizes for perception, scalability, and maintainability.
Kodiak Robotics said it delivers freight daily for its customers across the South using its autonomous technology. The company also uses its commercial self-driving software to develop, test and deploy autonomous capabilities for the U.S. Department of Defense.
Safety drivers currently operate all of Kodiak’s trucks, including on its Houston-Dallas and Houston-Oklahoma City routes. The company plans to introduce its first driverless operations along its Dallas-Houston route later this year, using the Ryder facility as a launch point. It also has plans to expand services to Georgia.
“Our goal is to build the elements we need for driverless operations, and having this Houston location up and running is a critical component of that plan,” said Burnette. “The Ryder facility will serve as a base to conduct testing and to validate the truckport operational model. Leveraging existing infrastructure eliminates the need for Kodiak to build and develop real estate, and it allows us to focus on launching and scaling driverless truck deployment.”