Last month, Kodiak Robotics Inc. announced that it would be using Ryder System Inc.’s service network to commercialize and scale its autonomous trucks. The companies have already established their first truckport at a Ryder fleet maintenance facility in Houston.
This truckport enables Kodiak to serve routes in Texas and Oklahoma. To start, all of the company‘s trucks will operate with safety drivers, but it and Ryder said they hope to eventually operate fully autonomously.
Daniel Goff, the director of external affairs at Kodiak, shared some insights about the partnership with Mobile Robot Guide.
Kodiak says Ryder is an ideal partner for scaling
How did the collaboration between Ryder and Kodiak come about? What were the key factors that led to this partnership?
Goff: Ryder and Kodiak share a goal of facilitating the commercialization of autonomous technology in a way that supports the safe deployment of autonomous trucks, and this alignment made Ryder an ideal partner for us. Kodiak’s relationship with Ryder formally kicked off in December when the companies opened the truckport.
Ryder’s industry-leading fleet services and vast footprint of service locations will enable us to operate autonomous trucks at scale, particularly because it allows both companies to take advantage of the existing network.
This specific location enables us to launch and land autonomous trucks, as well as transfer freight to serve routes between Houston, Dallas, Oklahoma City, and beyond.
Scaling self-driving trucks requires process, tech savvy
Looking ahead, what are the long-term goals and aspirations for the collaboration between Ryder and Kodiak?
Goff: The Ryder facility will serve as a base to conduct testing, to validate the truckport operational model, and to develop a blueprint that can be applied to a nationwide network of truckports.
Leveraging existing infrastructure eliminates the need for Kodiak to build and develop real estate, and it allows the company to focus on launching and scaling autonomous truck deployment.
What are some of the challenges that both companies anticipate in scaling autonomous truck deployment?
Goff: Scaling autonomous trucking is not just about technology; it’s also about building operational processes and infrastructure that can be shared across the entire trucking ecosystem. That’s why we’re excited to partner with Ryder, the biggest name in trucking services, to prepare the industry for AV trucks.
What steps are you hoping to make that will enable you to take safety drivers out of the vehicles on the Dallas-Houston route later this year?
Goff: Earlier this year, Kodiak introduced its next-generation, autonomous semi-truck designed for scaled deployment. Now we are working to build a “safety case,” or a quantitative proof that the Kodiak Driver is as safe as a human driver.