Under the partnership, Ascend Dedicated — the firm's newest division — will pick up customer loads and transport them to V.A.S. hubs in Dallas and Houston, Texas. From there, V.A.S. will complete the onward linehaul movement to its destination hub from which Ascend drivers will transport loads to their final destinations.
Benefits of Hub-to-Hub Autonomous Transportation
According to V.A.S. Preisdent Nils Jaeger, the "autonomy holds enormous potential to transform the transportation industry" including through:
- Additional capacity
- Keeping drivers closer to home
- Improving road safety
"Many of today’s drivers seek job opportunities that align with lifestyle factors that they prioritize, including schedules that enable them to spend more time with their families, improved nutrition enjoyed through home-cooked meals, and regular exercise," Ascend officials said. "Long-haul drivers often find these goals challenging to attain while traveling through the interstate highway system for days or weeks. Autonomous linehaul solutions bracketed with experienced drivers providing expert care on the origin and destination ends of a shipment’s path is one possible way to address the needs of drivers in the future."
According to Ascend officials, autonomous transportation capabilities also have the potential to improve transit time, fuel economy, and safety.
"Autonomous vehicles will not require rest periods as today’s driver piloted vehicles, thereby enabling faster delivery schedules via 24/7 operations," according to the company. "Additionally, computer guided synchronization and optimization of vehicle operation enables performance gains not previously possible which are expected to improve fuel efficiency. Lastly, safety is arguably the most exciting frontier for autonomous transportation and certainly the area of greatest development."
By working with V.A.S. and supporting the real-world development of this technology, Ascend seeks to accelerate the advancement of autonomous driving technology. Central to this is ensuring vehicles have comprehensive capabilities to safely operate in their intended operational domain and for the foreseeable future all vehicles operated autonomously have a qualified driver on board, Ascend officials said.
Ascend's Integration of Dedicated Transportation Solutions
Ascend Dedicated built upon the foundation of Dedicated Transportation Solutions, which was acquired in 2022.
“We are excited to initiate the integration of DTS into Ascend as we seek to grow our dedicated contract carriage business,” Ascend CEO Michael McLary said. “[Ascend Dedicated President Scott] Stowers, the founder of DTS, and his staff bring vital experience and creativity to Ascend’s growth and innovation plans, as exemplified by this new partnership with Volvo."