Knight-Swift Transportation will be the first motor carrier to integrate Embark’s autonomous technology into existing operations, operating with a driver behind the wheel.
The autonomous-truck-tech developer announced it has initiated handoff of the first Embark-powered truck to the motor carrier as part of the Truck Transfer Program. The company said TTP marks the first public initiative where a carrier will directly own and operate a truck with select features of Embark’s automated driving software. This subset of features is designed to operate with a trained Knight-Swift driver behind the wheel at all times.
Knight-Swift will be able to collect data regarding system safety and operational performance, while Embark will gain valuable insight from having its system components operating in a carrier customer’s duty cycle.
The first Embark-powered truck will begin integrating into Knight-Swift’s daily operations to move loads for large shippers on the Los Angeles to Phoenix lane.
To meet the uptime requirements of a commercial fleet, Embark has focused on hardening its Embark Universal Interface and Embark Driver software. This includes improvements in calibration and maintainability of the system, enabling quick troubleshooting so trucks can get back on the road.
Embark and Knight-Swift have been jointly working on several operational initiatives to prepare for the handoff of Embark-powered trucks into Knight-Swift’s daily operations. These include:
- Developing maintenance procedures for AV systems
- Developing procedures for pre- and post-trip inspections
- Training and certifying Knight-Swift drivers
- Developing escalation policies for maintenance issues.
Embark is also training Knight-Swift technicians on how to service and interact with the trucks.
While on the road, Embark-powered trucks will be monitored and supported by Embark Guardian, a combination of cloud-based fleet management software and personnel, which together will monitor the health of the Embark system.
“I am excited to take delivery, so our drivers and customers can provide direct feedback on the technology as we use it in day-to-day operations to enable new safety and efficiency in trucking” said Knight Swift CEO Dave Jackson.
Embark CEO Alex Rodrigues said, “Handing over the first Embark-powered truck to the Knight-Swift team tops off a year in which Embark has made critical strides to close the gap between testing our autonomous technology and scaling it across customer fleets. The Truck Transfer Program will be a model for the industry as we move from the R&D and pilot phase toward commercialization.”
The TTP program, announced earlier this year, is a major step on the path to eventual purchase and ownership of Embark-equipped trucks by carriers, according to the company.