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Autonomous milestone

Autonomous milestone

Aeolus Truck & Driver News

 May 2022   

The development of autonomous trucking routes in the United States is continuing to expand.

Self-driving truck developer Kodiak Robotics has partnered with U.S. Xpress, one of America’s largest carrier fleets, to launch a Level 4 autonomous freight service between Dallas-Fort Worth and Atlanta.

U.S. Xpress becomes the first cornerstone truckload partner in Kodiak’s Partner Deployment Programme, working with Kodiak to deploy self-driving technology. This partnership also launches the first commercial autonomous trucking lane to the East Coast. 

A Kodiak truck and U.S. Xpress trailers completed a first-of-its-kind pilot, hauling freight four round-trips (eight segments), approximately 10,200km, delivering eight commercial loads between Dallas and Atlanta in late March.

The truck ran 24 hours a day for 131 total hours, representing a more than 100% increase in utilisation 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+ hours, autonomous trucks will allow carriers to haul more freight with fewer trucks, increasing revenue while decreasing costs. 

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The development of autonomous trucking routes in the United States is continuing to expand.

Self-driving truck developer Kodiak Robotics has partnered with U.S. Xpress, one of America’s largest carrier fleets, to launch a Level 4 autonomous freight service between Dallas-Fort Worth and Atlanta.

U.S. Xpress becomes the first cornerstone truckload partner in Kodiak’s Partner Deployment Programme, working with Kodiak to deploy self-driving technology. This partnership also launches the first commercial autonomous trucking lane to the East Coast. 

A Kodiak truck and U.S. Xpress trailers completed a first-of-its-kind pilot, hauling freight four round-trips (eight segments), approximately 10,200km, delivering eight commercial loads between Dallas and Atlanta in late March.

The truck ran 24 hours a day for 131 total hours, representing a more than 100% increase in utilisation 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+ hours, autonomous trucks will allow carriers to haul more freight with fewer trucks, increasing revenue while decreasing costs. 

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 utilisation 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.”

The route between Dallas and Atlanta is a perfect entry point for continuous autonomous operations because it’s slightly longer than what a driver is permitted to operate in a day but is too short to economically run as a team. This pilot also represents the first-ever autonomous freight deliveries between Dallas and Atlanta.

“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 1200km 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.” 

This pilot is the first step in the partnership between U.S. Xpress and Kodiak. Kodiak will continue to haul freight with U.S. Xpress between Dallas and Atlanta, as well as other lanes within the Kodiak network. By servicing lanes often deemed less desirable by professional truck drivers, autonomous trucks complement human drivers allowing them to focus on routes which can provide a more consistent schedule and predictable pay check.

In addition to Dallas to Atlanta, Kodiak has been delivering freight on the 385km lane from Dallas to Houston since mid-2019, and on the 450km lane between Dallas and San Antonio since mid-2021. The company recently launched commercial operations between Dallas and Oklahoma City in February 2022.  


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