Self-driving truck company Kodiak Robotics has entered into an agreement with ground transportation provider Forward Air Corp. (No. 39 on the FleetOwner 500 Top For-Hire Fleets of 2023) to operate autonomous freight service 24 hours per day, six days per week, between Dallas and Atlanta, making three round trips weekly.
Kodiak has delivered more than 100 loads and driven more than 100,000 miles since it began working with Forward Air in August. To maintain the demanding schedule and abide by hours-of-service regulations, Kodiak’s self-driving truck operates with a safety driver team overseeing the autonomous system, according to a Kodiak release.
Tom Schmitt, chairman, president and CEO of Forward Air, said, “To serve our customers, we always need to be on the forefront of exploring emerging technologies. Kodiak has earned an outstanding reputation in safe autonomous trucking, and this collaboration allows us to explore potential benefits to our business. While we don’t see autonomous trucks replacing independent contractor capacity, this could potentially be a scalable solution for certain lanes in our network.”
Kodiak states that it's able to operate consistent 24-hour service across the nearly 800-mile freight lane between Dallas and Atlanta due to the flexibility and speed of its sparse mapping solution. This proprietary mapping approach speeds the process of introducing new autonomous lanes, enabling Kodiak to issue real-time, fleetwide mapping updates over the air, according to the company release.
“We are proving out our business model by moving time-sensitive freight across thousands of miles and multiple hours of service through our collaboration with" Forward Air, said Kodiak's founder and CEO, Don Burnette. “The tweener lane between Dallas and Atlanta is long and difficult to staff, so it perfectly illustrates how autonomous trucks can make the supply chain more efficient and resilient, and supplement our customers' human-driven fleets. At the same time, we are showcasing the reliability and ruggedness of our autonomous system, which is able to operate for six days straight without needing rest or recalibration—a significant achievement.”