Self-driving trucking developer Kodiak Robotics has teamed up with US Xpress, one of the USA’s largest carrier fleets, with the intent of operating a Level 4 autonomous freight service between Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, and Atlanta, Georgia, using Kodiak’s self-driving trucks. The company will become the first truckload partner in Kodiak’s Partner Deployment Program and the partnership also marks the launch of the first commercial autonomous trucking lane to the East Coast.
A Kodiak truck and US Xpress trailers completed a first-of-its-kind pilot, hauling freight on four round trips (eight segments), covering approximately 6,350 miles, delivering eight commercial loads between Dallas and Atlanta in late March. The truck ran 24 hours a day for 131 total hours, or nearly five-and-a-half full days. This represents a more than 100% increase in utilization compared to a traditional truck and professional driver with an 11 hours of service limit.
By increasing the number of hours a truck can be used per day to 20+ hours, Kodiak states that autonomous trucks will allow carriers to haul more freight with fewer trucks, increasing revenue while decreasing costs.
“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 US Xpress. “We fundamentally believe that Kodiak’s autonomous technology will allow us to scale our fleet while increasing truck utilization 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 companies note that the route between Dallas and Atlanta is an ideal 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. The 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,” added 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 750 miles 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. We chose to make US Xpress a cornerstone partner in our Partner Deployment Program because we see US Xpress and its Variant division as ideal long-term partners for the deployment and scaling of our autonomous long-haul solution.”
In addition to Dallas to Atlanta, Kodiak has been delivering freight daily on a 240-mile lane from Dallas to Houston since mid-2019, and on a 280-mile lane between Dallas and San Antonio since mid-2021.