Editor’s note: Clarifies that TuSimple watermelon delivery did not involve autonomous driving in Oklahoma.
Kodiak Robotics is hauling freight autonomously from Texas to Oklahoma City as part of a partnership with third-party logistics giant Ceva Logistics.
Kodiak claims the first regular deliveries using autonomous trucks in the Sooner State. Test deliveries of watermelons by rival TuSimple last May arrived in Oklahoma after a partially autonomous drive from Nogales, Arizona. But the fruit covered the Oklahoma portion of the trip with a human driver in control.
Autonomous freight comes as Ceva, like other shippers, struggles to find enough drivers.
“At Ceva, we define innovation as the implementation of new ideas with business impact, and our partnership with Kodiak will deliver more business value to our customers, especially in light of the current supply chain crisis and the ongoing driver shortage,” Shawn Stewart, Ceva president and managing director of North America, said in a press release.
The open-ended autonomous partnership with Mountain View, California-based Kodiak is the first for the Houston-based 3PL. Kodiak has been delivering freight daily between Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston for several shippers since mid-2019. It added Dallas-Fort Worth to San Antonio runs last year.
Kodiak providing safety drivers
The Kodiak Driver autonomous system is monitored by a human in the cab for now. Ceva has more than 2,400 drivers, but Kodiak supplies safety drivers for the loads it carries.
The Kodiak Driver system, purpose-built for long-haul trucks, incorporates Luminar’s Iris lidar, ZF full-range radar, Hesai 360-degree scanning lidars and a range of cameras to capture and process hundreds of megabytes of data per second to allow the truck to “see” long range and around the truck.
The trucks Kodiak is using contain its fourth-generation system that packs radars, cameras and lidars into the encasements of the 50-inch side mirrors along with a slim profile “center pod” on the front roofline.
Ceva delivered its first load with Kodiak in November 2021 and is moving goods weekly on the 200-mile freight lane between Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin, Texas. The companies expanded the partnership in February, adding the 200-mile Dallas-Fort Worth to Oklahoma City run on the freight-rich Interstate 35 corridor.
Texas is a hotbed of autonomous truck testing because of its flat roads and temperate weather conditions. Aurora Innovation, TuSimple, Embark Trucks and Waymo Via all conduct test runs on parts of the Texas Triangle that moves between Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston.
“As Americans grapple with pandemic-related supply chain issues and the long-term truck driver shortage, Ceva is leading the industry in adopting new technology that will benefit its customers,” Kodiak co-founder and CEO Don Burnette said.