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Embark’s autonomous trucks delivering Frigidaire products

A partnership has been forged between autonomous retrofitter Embark and Electrolux through its subsidiary Frigidaire and fleet management company Ryder System Inc., Motion Digest reports. Putting together the self-driving technology of Embark with the supply chain solutions and transportation assistance that Ryder can provide has helped push through shipments of Frigidaire products.

The pilot uses Embark’s technology to ship Frigidaire refrigerators 650 miles at a time.

While the issue of whether there is a truck driver shortage or not is debated, Embark CEO Alex Rodrigues chose to focus on the talent that the industry will lose in just a couple of decades. “More than 50% of all drivers will retire in the next two decades and there aren’t nearly enough young drivers joining the industry to replace them. By allowing automation to work together with local drivers to handles less desirable long-haul routes, we will be able to increase productivity to address the current 50,000 driver shortage while also creating new local driving jobs that attract younger drivers for the industry.”

The previous tests that Embark conducted were done with public safety officials in charge of state transportation in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. These officials coordinated with Embark to test the pilot-involved trucks. The trucks operated at Level 2 autonomy with a professional driver behind the wheel to take over as needed.

One truck in the test went as far as 306 consecutive miles.

Ryder’s President for Global Fleet Management Solutions, Dennis Cooke, was optimistic of the valueself-driving technology can bring to the logistics industry. “We believe that automated transportation will play a key role in how logistics networks function in the future,” he said. “Automation will ultimately improve safety, efficiency, and sustainability for our customers who count on Ryder to provide them with guidance around new technologies such as advanced driver-assistance systems. We’re excited to be working with Embark and Frigidaire to demonstrate these advancements in a real-world logistics operation.

The pilot with Ryder involved a driver from Ryder’s Dedicated Transportation Solutions department picking up a trailer containing refrigerators at a yard in El Paso, TX. The trailer is driven towards a transition point, taking I-10. Once at the transition point, Ryder’s driver unhooks the trailer to connect it to the waiting automated truck by Embark. Embark’s automated truck then takes it 650 miles to another transition point in Palm Springs, CA, where another driver from Ryder is waiting to make the final leg of the delivery to Electrolux’s distribution center in Ontario, CA.

With this pilot shipment, Rodrigues is optimistic about the opportunities about to come their way. “Every month we’re making big strides. We’re working towards commercializing this technology and aim to have it operational within just a few years.”

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