Kodiak has created a council of trucking industry leaders to help shape the company’s product development, deployment, and public engagement as it focuses on the commercialization of autonomous...

Kodiak has created a council of trucking industry leaders to help shape the company’s product development, deployment, and public engagement as it focuses on the commercialization of autonomous trucks.

Photo: Kodiak Robotics

Kodiak Robotics announced the launch of its Kodiak Industry Advisory Council. Kodiak said in a press release this council will bring together a “diverse” array of forward-thinking industry leaders to help shape the company’s product development, deployment, and public engagement as it focuses on the commercialization of autonomous trucks.

Experts from Across the Trucking Industry

Inaugural members of the Kodiak Industry Advisory Council represent well-known brands and organizations in North American trucking. These include the Arkansas Trucking Association, Loadsmith, Walmart, Werner Enterprises, and UPS.

The committee is chaired by former Kodiak COO and current strategic advisor and board member, James Reed. Reed is also Vice President of transportation development, Walmart. His career has been split in nearly equal parts between Silicon Valley and transportation.

Reed began his career at Intel and then spent time as a finance executive at TMobile, J.P. Morgan Chase, and EMC. Reed was CEO of USA Truck where he led the turnaround and sale of the company to DB Schenker. Reed serves or has served on the boards of USA Truck, Moatable, Loram Maintenance of Way, Montgomery Transport, and Truck Parking Systems. He is also the founding leader of the American Trucking Association’s DE&I subcommittee.

“Kodiak’s Industry Advisory Council will help carry us through our next phase of growth, as we work alongside our partners to safely and efficiently deploy our driverless technology,” said Reed. “We’re fortunate to have such an esteemed group of industry luminaries whose range of experience includes work with industry-leading shippers, carriers, safety advocates, and regulators. Their unique perspectives will help to lead and shape the ways we approach industry and driver engagement, industry transformation, and driving public acceptance of autonomous trucks.”

Additional members of Kodiak’s Industry Advisory Council include:

  • Chad Dittberner, senior vice president, dry & expedited, Werner Enterprises. Dittberner is also senior vice president of the One-Way and Werner PowerLinkSM Networks at Werner Enterprises. He has more than 30 years of experience at Werner, currently overseeing office associates and professional drivers. Dittberner played a key role in propelling Werner’s Dedicated Fleet Operations Network to become one of the largest in the country during his tenure. He is a member of an associate-driven committee at Werner Enterprises called the Innovation Council, and he participates in other industry councils, demonstrating his commitment to improving efficiency and sustainability in trucking as well as helping to shape the industry’s future.
  • Anne Ferro, former administrator, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA); former president and CEO, American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA). Ferro served as administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) from 2009 through 2014, and president and CEO of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) from 2014 through 2023. Earlier, she served as president and CEO of the Maryland Motor Truck Association and was the first woman to become Maryland’s Motor Vehicle administrator, leading the state agency from 1997 to 2003. Ferro is a long-time advocate for transportation safety and mobility through responsible governance, technology investments and stakeholder collaboration. Over the years she served on multiple committees and advisory groups including a Motor Carrier Safety Research Analysis Committee with the Transportation Research Board, and the U.S. Department of Transportation Advisory Committee on Transportation Equity.
  • William Kruger, vice president of fleet maintenance and engineering, UPS. Kruger leads a corporate automotive ATG group with its autonomous fleet strategy, as well as all training & learning aspects in the automotive Global Learning & Development group. During his tenure at UPS, which began in 1989, he has also held the positions of Automotive Senior Projects Manager and Freight Director of Fleet Services and West Region Automotive Coordinator. Kruger has served on the Executive Board of Directors for the Transportation Research Board, and the Board of Directors for the ToolBank USA.
  • Shannon Newton, president, Arkansas Trucking Association. Newton joined the Arkansas Trucking Association in 2003 and has since filled a range of leadership roles with a focus on the development and implementation of strategic initiatives including planning, finance, member services, governance, regulatory and legislative affairs, and advocacy. In 2018, she was recognized by the American Trucking Association with the President’s Trucking Association Executives Council Leadership Award for her regional and national advocacy efforts. Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson  appointed Newton to the Working Group on Highway Funding, Arkansas’s Economic Recovery Task Force in 2020, and the Council on Future Mobility in 2022. Newton currently serves as chair of the Trucking Association Executives Council (TAEC), which is composed of staff executives of state trucking associations and conferences affiliated with the American Trucking Associations. In 2022, Newton was named to the Transportation Industry Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis to provide valuable feedback on the economic conditions of the trucking industry.
  • Brett Suma, founder and CEO, Loadsmith. Suma is CEO of Loadsmith, a leading third-party Capacity-as-a-Service (CaaS) logistics platform for shippers and carriers, and the first trucking company built specifically for autonomous trucks. Prior to Loadsmith, Suma spent 20 years in various operational and technical logistics leadership roles with Knight Transportation, where he most recently served as vice president of operations. His expertise in intelligent network design and freight execution, and how they contribute to the overall customer and driver experience, led Loadsmith to partner with Kodiak to equip 800 trucks with the Kodiak Driver, Kodiak’s self-driving technology. Suma’s deep understanding of freight networks and shipping patterns underscore the network design approach for the Loadsmith Freight Network (LFN), which will be the foundation of the operational design domain for Loadsmith’s autonomous future.

Kodiak said its Industry Advisory Council will help to guide and influence Kodiak’s product and strategic roadmap, and will help to shape how autonomous trucks will benefit and impact the trucking industry, society, and the world.

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