Ryder and driverless trucking technology company Embark Trucks are partnering to launch up to 100 transfer points nationwide to support autonomous trucking, the companies announced Sept. 16.
Embark aims to establish a network of strategically located transfer points, where freight is moved from driverless long-haul trucks to driver-enabled trucks for first- and last-mile delivery. Ryder plans to serve as the transfer point operator, managing the logistical operations throughout the yard, performing pre- and post-trip inspections, and providing maintenance services for the vehicles as well as the autonomous hardware.
Initially, the partnership will focus on developing sites in key freight markets in California, Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida, through which Embark plans to begin hauling loads in early 2022 in preparation for a larger commercial launch in 2024. Over the next five years, working with a network of real estate operators, the two companies aim to open as many as 100 Embark transfer points nationwide.
“A fully developed transfer point has to include autonomous truck maintenance services and efficient yard operations,” Alex Rodrigues, CEO of Embark, said in a statement. “By working with Ryder to offer best-in-class truck services throughout our transfer point network, we’re laying the groundwork for seamless coast-to-coast operations of Embark-equipped trucks.”
Embark developed its transfer point model in 2019 when the company unveiled its first sites in Los Angeles and Phoenix. Since then, Embark has conducted hundreds of hauls through these sites, refining required transfer point capabilities and evaluating a range of service providers to fulfill those capabilities.
“The path to commercial adoption of autonomous trucks involves quite a bit more than integrating the technology that allows vehicles to drive safely on their own,” Karen Jones, chief marketing officer and head of new product innovation at Ryder, said in a statement. “Someone needs to inspect the vehicles to identify potential problems, provide maintenance support, service the autonomous hardware, and coordinate load hand-offs, among other things. Through this partnership with Embark, we’re able to leverage nearly 90 years of Ryder’s operational expertise to support Embark’s growth plan.”
These latest developments reflect Ryder’s growing interest in autonomous trucking. In July, Ryder and autonomous driving technology company TuSimple announced they were partnering to develop terminals for driverless trucks.
Based in San Francisco since its founding in 2016, Embark is America’s longest-running self-driving truck program, and aims to commercialize autonomous trucks by 2024. The company aims later in 2021 to become a publicly traded company listed on the NASDAQ.