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FreightTech 25: Ike’s humble road to autonomous trucking pays off

Newly acquired startup takes No. 17 slot

Ike has emphasized safety in the development of its autonomous trucking technology. (Photo: Ike)

Ike, an autonomous long-haul trucking startup that ranked No. 17 in FreightTech 25, made strides in 2020 toward the future where self-driving tractor-trailers pull freight on interstates. Perhaps recognizing the value of Ike’s people and technology, partner and minority investor Nuro recently acquired the company

“… We have watched as Ike developed not just one of the most rigorous safety-first and systems-based approaches to self-driving development, but also a team that is widely regarded as one of the brightest in our field,” Nuro co-founder Dave Ferguson wrote in a medium post. 

Ike emerged as one of the companies earning top honors in the FreightTech 25, which recognizes companies leading the charge for disruption and innovation. A group of CEOs, investors and industry leaders voted on the list. Ike also made the FreightTech 25 last year, coming at No. 24.

Differentiating itself from others in the autonomous vehicles space, Ike pressed forward on a path that emphasized care, safety and humility over swagger. Nevertheless, the trucking and logistics industry was taking notice.  

Ike secured partnerships with Ryder System, Inc. (NYSE: R), NFI Industries and DHL to test its Level 4 autonomous trucking trucks.

CEO and co-founder Alden Woodrow explained Ike’s philosophy at the FreightTech Venture Summit in November, noting that safety is the critical underpinning of the development process.

“The trucks we’re powering are sharing the road with families in minivans and other drivers,” he said. 

Ike envisions having self-driving trucks operate on the highway, with human drivers taking freight to its final destination. 

With the acquisition by the much larger Nuro, which focuses on delivery vehicles, the future of Ike’s long-haul trucking technology isn’t clear. But Woodrow suggested the deal wouldn’t mark the end of the road.

“As for trucking, we continue to see huge opportunities to apply our combined expertise and technology to help with the long haul,” he wrote in an email to FreightWaves.

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Nate Tabak

Nate Tabak is a Toronto-based journalist and producer who covers cybersecurity and cross-border trucking and logistics for FreightWaves. He spent seven years reporting stories in the Balkans and Eastern Europe as a reporter, producer and editor based in Kosovo. He previously worked at newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the San Jose Mercury News. He graduated from UC Berkeley, where he studied the history of American policing. Contact Nate at [email protected]