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Today’s Pickup: Self-driving truck now making deliveries in Dallas

Good day,

Kodiak Robotics is now making commercial deliveries in the Dallas, Texas, area with its self-driving Kenworth trucks. The company, founded in April 2018, is running loads out of its North Texas facility.

“We could not be more excited to announce our expansion into Texas, with an office in the DFW area,” said Don Burnette, CEO and co-founder of Kodiak Robotics. “In just over a year, we’ve gone from founding Kodiak to putting our trucks on the road and hauling freight for customers. Making such rapid progress wouldn’t be possible without our strong, experienced team, who’ve been working with autonomous vehicles since the early days of the industry. As industry veterans, we’ve seen where self-driving technology has fallen short, and have a clear vision for how to make it work and work safely.”

A driver remains behind the steering wheel at all times and the vehicle only operates in autonomous mode during the “middle mile” on highway routes, the company stressed.

Founded by Burnette, who was involved with Google’s self-driving car program as well as Otto, which was acquired by Uber, and Paz Ushel, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Kodiak is attempting to commercialize the self-driving truck amid a fierce battle for early leadership among other startups such as Otto, Embark and TuSimple, and even legacy players such as Daimler.

Kodiak is equipping Kenworth models with aftermarket hardware and software.

“We are thrilled by the reception we’ve received from all Texans,” Eshel said. “From Governor Abbott to the Department of Public Safety to the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), we’ve received nothing but support. We look forward to continuing to build meaningful community partnerships in Texas and helping to make sure that Texas is the home of autonomous trucking.”

Thomas Bamonte, senior program manager for automated vehicles at the North Central Texas Council of Governments, noted that autonomous vehicles will play a vital role in transportation management for growing regions such as Dallas-Fort Worth.

“As a region adding more than 1 million new residents each decade, it is important to develop a comprehensive strategy for the safe and reliable movement of people and goods,” he said. “Our policy officials on the Regional Transportation Council have been very forward-thinking in their recognition of technology as part of the answer, which is positioning our region as a leader in the automated vehicle industry.”

Did you know?

After falling in recent years, sales of natural gas Class 8 trucks were up 43 percent in the first five months of 2019. Experts attribute the rise to uncertainly in the oil markets, California regulations, a lower price for natural gas, and public funding from the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal settlement.


“While our specialized segment continues to deliver strong performance amid loosening economic conditions, the market for our flatbed solutions came in lower than we originally projected in the first half of fiscal 2019. As a result, we have adjusted our outlook to reflect today’s market conditions. We remain committed to capturing synergies throughout our operating companies, while seeking to lower our cost structure and de-lever the business.”

-Bharat Mahajan, Daseke chief financial officer 

In other news:

Driverless cars come to Big Apple

New York City will see its first driverless cars as six vehicles go into operation shuttling passengers around the Brooklyn Navy Yard. (New York Times)

Texas officials mull extension of tolls

Officials in Texas are proposing an extension of the Toll 49 corridor into Harrison County, connecting Tyler, Longview and Marshall. (Marshall News Messenger)

Memphis freight volumes leading an economic slowdown

If there was doubt that the economy is starting to slow down, one only needs to look at frieght volumes in Memphis. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

Swiss WorldCargo adds destinations

Swiss WorldCargo will begin non-stop service to Osaka, Japan, and Washington, DC, in March 2020. (Air Cargo News)

Sleep apnea debate grows in trucking

New research is bolstering the case that sleep apnea should be tested for and included among safety concerns for truck drivers. (Daily Republic)

Final Thoughts

Daseke, a leading fleet in the flatbed markets, lowered its earnings projection for the year on August 5, in another sign of the slowing economy. Most trucking fleets have lowered their projections for the remainder of 2019 in their latest earnings releases. A slowdown is definitely happening, the question that remains is for how long, and to what extent?

Hammer down everyone!

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes Daseke (No. 21).


  1. Any driver that helps operate this thing during those “middle miles” need to have his knees broken. The time for political action is over. If we don’t stop them…nobody will!

    1. That would do nothing to stop this inevitable technology from advancing. The only result would be one person in the hospital, and the other in prison with a massive lawsuit to look forward to.

Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at