Embark autonomous truck in use now on US highway
"... we believe it's really going to support our focus on providing a sustainable and efficient network."
For the past month or so, autonomous trucks have been in use on the highway between Texas and California. A driver is at the wheel, but functioning primarily as a fail-safe.
Fifteen months ago Embark Trucks bought a truck, and set about writing software for Level 2 autonomous driving. It has taken a particularly niche approach — the truck’s system is specifically designed to run on interstate highways.
So for these initial live trials, Embark Trucks has partnered with Ryder, a truck rental, fleet management and supply chain solution company, to ship Electrolux’s Frigidaire brand products on the I10 from Texas to California.
“We manage over 230,000 vehicles across North America, serving over half of the Fortune 500 companies today”, says Chris Nordh, Senior Director of Advanced Vehicle Technologies at Ryder.
Ryder trucks and drivers pick up the freight from the Frigidaire warehouse at El Paso. They stop at the edge of the I10 interstate highway, and hitch the freight to the Embark truck. The Embark truck keeps the journey simply, sticking as much as possible to the right lane.
The truck makes a 650-mile (1,046 kilometres) journey to Palm Springs, California, and hands the load over again to a Ryder truck and driver to complete the delivery to Frigidaire’s California warehouse.
“We drive over 100 million miles per year. We’re excited about partnering with Embark, and we believe it’s really going to support our focus on providing a sustainable and efficient network for our consumers and our customers,” said Josh Benton, Vice President, Supply Chain at Electrolux.
Embark Trucks CEO Alex Rodrigues has bought the truck, built the system, and jumped through all the regulatory hoops to get to this stage, but is well aware of the need to be safe, and be perceived as safe.
“We think safety is super-important to everything we’re doing, and so we don’t want to be taking any risks when we’re testing this system. We have a driver in the seat, he’s there watching the road, making sure everything is safe, and that way we’re able to go out and test this as much as possible, while being incredibly confident that everything we’re doing is safe.”