Embark Trucks, Inc. today announced the launch of the coast-to-coast backbone of the Embark Coverage Map, preparing key Sunbelt markets to be served by its fleet partners. The coverage map expansion represents the next step in a journey to deliver coast-to-coast operational availability that began with Embark’s first Los Angeles to Jacksonville run in 2018.
The coverage map includes nine transfer point sites in cities across the Sunbelt—including new locations in Dallas, El Paso, Atlanta, and Jacksonville. They will accommodate planned autonomous freight volume in key markets and provide anticipated operational support for carriers and shippers using Embark-powered trucks.
“Our carrier partners have a meaningful portion of their loads concentrated on a select set of lanes between major markets in the Sunbelt,” said Embark CEO Alex Rodrigues. “We are delivering on one of our key 2022 objectives by activating these key markets as one cohesive network today, giving carrier partners the line-of-sight that they need to plan their deployment of Embark-equipped trucks, improving the ecosystem’s ability to rapidly scale in 2024.”
Embark strategically selected the nine sites to automate crucial shipping lanes for its carrier partners eventually. The expanded network is positioned to serve 9.5 billion mi (15.3 billion km) of annual freight in 2020 including Dallas to Houston, San Antonio to Houston, and Dallas to Atlanta—some of the highest-volume inter-city lanes in the U.S. As a result, 28% of U.S. shipping volume in the Sunbelt is available for autonomous transport by its fleet partners, who will be able to own and operate the trucks and begin hauling goods autonomously once the technology is commercialized.
Embark’s carrier partners should be able to deliver faster than is currently possible due to 24/7 operations autonomously across the network. Around 41% of U.S. shipment miles in the expanded coverage map are on lanes longer than drivers can complete in a single shift due to U.S. Hours of Service regulations. The company anticipates that the 3.3 million loads on these lanes should become eligible for earlier delivery once automated.
For the coverage map, the autonomous truck tech company leveraged partnerships to accelerate deployment timelines, access superior properties for autonomous trucks, and deliver infrastructure for fleet partners in an asset-light manner. It secured optimized real-estate sites and support services through its partnerships with Alterra Property Group and Ryder.
Embark was able to leverage Alterra’s deep industry knowledge and team providing nationwide coverage, its portfolio of over 150 existing properties across more than 30 states, and its fully discretionary fund to quickly identify sites and structure flexible usage agreements to scale across specific properties in alignment with the company’s growing volumes. As the company continues to build density across the coverage map ahead of deployment, it will look to expand to additional sites and leverage other utilization structures such as pay-per-use as operations continue to scale.
The coverage map is already being used with Embark’s fleet partners through multiple pilots. The company has deployed Ryder operators to certain coverage map sites to provide inspections and support services necessary to keep trucks moving in an efficient and safe manner.
Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, since its founding in 2016, Embark says it is America’s longest-running self-driving truck program. The company’s mission is “to realize a world where consumers pay less for the things they need, drivers stay close to the homes they cherish, and roads are safer for the people we love.”
It is focused on improving the safety, efficiency, and sustainability of the nearly $730-billion-a-year trucking market. The company partners with some of the largest shippers and carriers in the U.S., collectively representing over 38,000 trucks.
Embark believes its patent-pending Vision Map Fusion (VMF) technology makes it uniquely positioned to allow for this rapid coast-to-coast expansion. VMF minimizes reliance on “cumbersome” HD (high-definition) maps by leaning more heavily on real-time inputs from its trucks’ sensor suite, allowing the technology to navigate its environment using a light and easy-to-create and -maintain map. This map-light approach allows Embark to expand to new markets in a way where effort does not scale with distance.