Kodiak Robotics and Forward Air Roll Self-Driving Freight Runs Between Dallas and Atlanta

North Texas continues to be a key proving ground for self-driving long-haul truck runs—with another “lane” now been added between Dallas and Atlanta.

Mountain View, California-based Kodiak Robotics—which announced an earlier partnership last May with U.S. Xpress to launch autonomous freight service between Dallas and Atlanta—today announced it has teamed up with Forward Air Corporation to roll freight between the same two cities.

Through the agreement, Kodiak and Forward say they’re “operating autonomous freight service 24 hours per day, six days per week between Dallas and Atlanta, making three round trips weekly.”

Kodiak operates locally out of a logistics hub in Lancaster, a suburb just south of Dallas.

‘Safety driver team’ rides along to oversee the autonomous system

Kodiak’s self-driving truck operates with a safety driver team overseeing the autonomous system. The company says it has maintained “a perfect safety record and provided top-quality customer service to Forward,” delivering more than 100 loads and driving more than 100,000 miles since the companies began collaborating last August

Tennessee-based Forward Air is a leading asset-light provider of transportation services across the U.S.Canada, and Mexico. Tom Schmitt, the company’s chairman, president, and CEO said his company always needs 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,” Schmitt added in a statement. “While we don’t see autonomous trucks replacing independent contractor capacity, this could potentially be a scalable solution for certain lanes in our network.”

Effort aided by Kodiak’s ‘sparse mapping solution’

Kodiak says its ability to operate consistent 24-hour service across the nearly 800 mile freight lane between Dallas and Atlanta “is largely attributable to the reliability and ruggedness of Kodiak’s autonomous system and the unique flexibility and speed of its sparse mapping solution.”

The company says its proprietary mapping approach “speeds the process of introducing new autonomous lanes, and it enables Kodiak to issue real-time, fleet-wide mapping updates over-the-air.”

“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,” Don Burnette, founder and CEO of Kodiak, said in the statement. “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’re 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.”

Besides the collaboration with Forward Air and U.S. Xpress, Kodiak Robotics has also announced partnerships with IKEA, Werner Enterprises, U.S. Xpress, 10 Roads Express, and CEVA Logistics.

Kodiak first established its North Texas presence in 2019, just a year after the company was founded.

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R E A D   N E X T

  • Starting in May, Gatik's autonomous 20-foot box trucks will begin rolling goods from Kroger's Dallas distribution center to Kroger grocery stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Initially, they'll be operated with a safety driver in the cab, Gatik says.

  • Self-driving trucking company Kodiak Robotics is teaming up with U.S. Xpress to launch autonomous freight service between Dallas and Atlanta using Kodiak's self-driving trucks—with operators in the cab to monitor things. It's the first launch of a commercial autonomous trucking lane to the East Coast, following earlier Kodiak routes from Dallas to Houston, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City.

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