Loadsmith Trailers 649439929c5f4

Loadsmith plans to deploy 800 Kodiak self-driving trucks

June 22, 2023
The Capacity-as-a-Service carrier wants to use autonomous trucks to fill the middle mile while relying on the drivers of small fleets to handle the first and final miles of goods movement across the nascent Loadsmith Freight Network.

Third-party Capacity-as-a-Service startup Loadsmith has ordered 800 autonomous trucks from Kodiak Robotics to serve as the foundation of its nascent Loadsmith Freight Network.

The trucks, equipped with the Kodiak Driver self-driving technology, would serve the middle miles on some of the 150 most popular freight lanes in the U.S., according to Brett Suma, Loadsmith's CEO and founder. He told FleetOwner he wants to work with smaller fleets on multiyear contracts to use human drivers for the first and final miles of goods movement. 

Suma noted that part of the company’s interest in purchasing autonomous vehicles (AVs) was to address the current driver shortage and reinvent the position as a whole. Kodiak will begin delivering the Kodiak Driver-powered self-driving trucks in the second half of 2025, which Suma said would be deployed where regulations allow trucks to operate without humans behind the wheel.

See also: Kodiak turns Class 8 EV into self-driving truck

“My interest in autonomous has lasted for multiple years now,” Suma said. “Somewhat [because of] what it can do for drivers and in terms of the next generation of workers.”

The Loadsmith CaaS logistics platform is designed to serve shippers and smaller carriers with the Kodiak-equipped autonomous trucks as the foundation for the freight network. To see just what AVs can do for the commercial vehicle industry, the Kodiak trucks on the LFN would transport goods autonomously on the interstate portions of highway routes, completing the long-haul portions of Loadsmith’s deliveries while human-driven trucks, booked on Loadsmith’s platform, will do local pickups and deliveries.

“I think that autonomous can provide an elastic supply of trucks, which will create an equilibrium of supply and demand [for commercial transportation],” Suma added. “I think that that will ultimately benefit our shippers in regard to multiyear contracts and the ability to have a significant understanding of what their land and transportation costs will be over time.”

Loadsmith’s proprietary logistics platform will deploy 6,000 trailers on the LFN to maximize the utilization of the Kodiak-powered trucks on the network, pairing self-driving trucks and local manual trucks to increase their service flexibility.  

As part of the agreement, Loadsmith has joined the Kodiak Partner Deployment Program, which helps shippers and carriers establish autonomous freight operations and integrate the Kodiak Driver into their fleets. 

FleetOwner Editor-in-Chief Josh Fisher contributed to this report.

About the Author

Alex Keenan

Alex Keenan is an associate editor for Endeavor's Commercial Vehicle Group, which includes FleetOwner magazine. She has written on a variety of topics for the past several years and recently joined the transportation industry, reviewing content covering technician challenges and breaking industry news. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. 

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