Freight truckload company US Xpress is to launch a Level 4 autonomous freight service between Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, and Atlanta, Georgia, using trucking company Kodiak Robotics’ self-driving trucks.
To trial the tech, a Kodiak truck and US Xpress trailers hauled freight on four roundtrips – covering approximately 6,350 miles, delivering eight commercial loads – between Dallas and Atlanta in March 2022. A team of four professional Kodiak safety drivers oversaw the autonomous system.
The truck ran 24 hours a day for 131 total hours, or approximately five full days – representing a more than 100% increase in use compared to a traditional truck and professional driver with a limit of 11 hours of service per day. By increasing the number of hours a truck can be used per day to more than 20, US Xpress expects the autonomous trucks to enable carriers to haul more freight with fewer trucks, increasing revenue while decreasing costs.
The pilot is the first step in the partnership between US Xpress and Kodiak within the trucking company’s partner deployment program. Kodiak will continue to haul freight with US Xpress between Dallas and Atlanta, as well as other lanes within the Kodiak network. By servicing lanes often deemed less desirable by professional truck drivers, the autonomous trucks are expected to complement human drivers by enabling them to focus on routes that can provide a more consistent schedule and predictable paycheck.
Eric Fuller, president and CEO of US Xpress, said, “This pilot demonstrated to our operations teams and our customers the benefits that can come with autonomous technology. We fundamentally believe that Kodiak’s autonomous technology will allow us to scale our fleet while increasing truck utilization compared to a human-driven truck. Our strategic partnership is helping both of our teams identify ways to quickly integrate and scale autonomous technology into our fleet once it is commercially available.”
“Our partnership with US Xpress marks our service expansion to the East Coast,” said Don Burnette, founder and CEO of Kodiak Robotics. “We believe it is the furthest east any company has delivered multiple loads using autonomous technology. Having the capacity to sustain 24/7 operations across the more than 750 miles between Dallas and Atlanta – two of our nation’s busiest freight hubs – represents a giant step forward for Kodiak, and for the AV trucking industry as a whole. We chose to make US Xpress a cornerstone partner in our partner deployment program because we see US Xpress and its Variant division as ideal long-term partners for the deployment and scaling of our autonomous long-haul solution.”