Tyson Foods plans to ship its temperature-controlled products autonomously between Dallas and San Antonio, Texas, in a new pilot program with Kodiak Robotics and C.R. England. Deliveries with Kodiak’s self-driving trucks and C.R. England’s refrigerated tailers are expected to begin in April, initially with safety drivers in the trucks.
Testing by Kodiak indicates self-driving trucks provide increased safety and reliability, the company maintained, potentially making its autonomous trucks “a huge benefit” in an industry long plagued by a driver shortage.
“Tyson Foods is pursuing the leading edge of technology in all aspects of our business, especially in transportation,” Patrick Simmons, the vice president of transportation at Tyson Foods, said in a news release. “Autonomous trucks are just one piece of the puzzle in this innovation journey to use technology to operate more efficiently and to help ensure our transportation loads are delivered in a timely fashion.”
As part of the partnership, truckload carrier C.R. England also joined Kodiak’s Partner Deployment Program, which helps carriers establish autonomous freight operations and integrate the Kodiak Driver, Kodiak’s self-driving system, into their fleets. The integration with boast many benefits, including improved safety, reduced fuel consumption, and lower carbon emissions, Kodiak said.
“One of the categories where C.R. England is a leader is in perishable foods, which require the safest, most reliable, on-time delivery possible,” said Chad England, C.R. England CEO. “Kodiak’s proven performance and commitment to customer success makes it a great partner to help us introduce autonomous service into our operations.
“Working with Kodiak enables us to better understand how autonomous vehicles fit into our fleet of the future, while continuing to deliver high-quality service and value to great customers like Tyson. By employing self-driving trucks, we can increase capacity and expedite deliveries without sacrificing customer service, as our valued drivers will take over to interface with customers and consignees at either end of the load.
“Our intent is to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for customers, whether they need their freight moved autonomously or not.”
C.R. England, a 103-year-old family-owned business, said it partnered with Kodiak because of their “shared focus on safety, sustainability and reliability of service.” Tyson products present an ideal use case for autonomous freight movement because the perishable food supply chain needs reliable, safe, and fast deliveries.
“C.R. England’s extensive premium service network provides the ideal scenario for the introduction of autonomous trucks,” said Don Burnette, founder and CEO at Kodiak. “The potential benefits of Kodiak’s technology are far-reaching—for shippers whose reputations are built on the freshness of their products, to end consumers who rely on companies like Tyson Foods to provide products they can trust.
“Our partnership with C.R. England will clearly demonstrate our value proposition of increasing safety, efficiency, and reliability for Tyson Foods and the entire supply chain.”