Peterbilt Partners in Developing Driverless Truck Technology

Technology drives the truck on open highways, but a human driver takes over in city traffic.

Truck drivers once were known as the knights of the highway, but Denton-based Peterbilt Trucks’ new partnership is aimed at putting technology in charge while the truck is hauling cargo on U.S. highways.

Peterbilt is partnering with Silicon Valley company Embark to develop autonomous trucking technology, the companies announced.

While Embark’s technology would steer the truck on highways, the company said a human driver would still be behind the wheel in populated urban areas.

According to Tech Crunch, Embark has raised $15 million in Series A funding for its neural net-based learning approach to autonomous trucking.

Embark’s first prototype was based on a Peterbilt 579 model truck, and the truck maker will provide a new group of test trucks to the startup. The truck will be built at Peterbilt’s Denton factory.

“I think we’re closer than most people think that we are.”
Gary Moore

The Series A funding, which puts Embark’s valuation at $75 million, was led by Data Collective and will help Embark hire new talent for its engineering team and expand the test fleet across the nation.

Tech Crunch reported that DCVC Managing Partner Matt Ocko said in a statement that Embark is “producing top-notch real-world driving results far more quickly and on far less capital than anyone else.”

Embark CEO Alex Rodrigues called the partnership with Peterbilt an exciting development.

“I think we’re closer than most people think that we are,” Moore Transport CEO Gary Moore told the Dallas Business Journal about driverless trucks.

Moore’s company specializes in the delivery of cars from the manufacturer to the dealership, the Business Journal said.

The Business Journal reported that Embark’s technology would be a help in recruiting younger drivers as those from the baby boom generation begin to retire.

The aging trucker population and other factors could result in a shortage of 174,500 truck drivers by 2024, the Business Journal said.

In another deal pairing a Silicon Valley company with a Dallas-Fort Worth business for automated technology, Uber announced in April that it was partnering with Fort Worth-based Bell Helicopter for its air taxi concept.

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