The market for self-driving trucks took three significant steps forward last week with the news that technology providers Embark Trucks Inc., Torc Robotics, and Volvo Autonomous Solutions had announced partnerships with the freight industry heavyweights U.S. Xpress, Penske Truck Leasing, and DHL Supply Chain.
Autonomous technology developer Embark Trucks Inc. on Friday said that truckload carrier U.S. Xpress had joined its “partner development program” and plans to add its terminals to Embark’s transfer point network. The company uses such transfer points to move freight from driverless, long-haul trucks completing “middle mile” legs to driver-enabled trucks for first- and last-mile delivery. Since launching that model in 2019 with sites in Los Angeles and Phoenix, Embark says it has conducted hundreds of hauls through the points.
The two companies now plan to co-develop an onsite operations playbook that captures standard processes for when autonomous trucks enter U.S. Xpress properties. Expected solutions will include gate access, onsite vehicle movement, trailer swap procedures, inspections, data and power management, and more.
Also last week, self-driving vehicle technology firm Torc Robotics said that Penske Truck Leasing would serve as the truck maintenance service provider for Torc's autonomous test fleet, saying the deal is part of Blacksburg, Virginia-based Torc's ongoing commercialization of autonomous trucks for long-haul applications.
More specifically, the firm recently created an “autonomous advisory council” in support of its goal to be the first scalable, profitable, commercialized Level 4 truck solution. The council is designed to provide strategic guidance to Torc as it integrates with the freight network and tackles challenges beyond highway driving.
And thirdly, Volvo’s Volvo Autonomous Solutions (VAS) division launched a “hub-to-hub autonomous transport solution” with the news that DHL Supply Chain would pilot the program as its first logistics service provider (LSP), alongside future members from the shipper, carrier, and freight broker sectors.
Designed to transport freight autonomously on major U.S. highway networks, the solution is the result of a collaboration between VAS and Aurora to create a technical platform for autonomous trucks in support of their Transport-as-a-Service (TaaS) solution for autonomous freight capacity.
We are happy to announce @PenskeNews as truck maintenance service provider for our autonomous test fleet. This partnership will help Torc integrate trucks into the existing freight industry. #TorcDriven https://t.co/2wB8e9Zp4C— Torc Robotics (@torcrobotics) May 5, 2022
We are excited to announce our partnership with @usxpress, one of the nation's largest truckload carriers. U.S. Xpress plans to add its terminals to the Embark Coverage Map. Together, we'll co-develop an onsite operations playbook.— Embark (@embarktrucks) May 6, 2022
Read our press release: https://t.co/OJMdjnefd3 pic.twitter.com/zW5BAfIEHA
Volvo Autonomous Solutions, driven by the Aurora Driver. We’re proud to partner with @volvogroup to develop autonomous transport solutions at scale and transform the movement of goods to be safer, more efficient, and more sustainable. https://t.co/jbVx78FbzP— Aurora (@aurora_inno) May 9, 2022