Embark Will Install Autonomous Software In Knight-Swift Trucks

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Embark Trucks will install its autonomous software in some Knight-Swift Transportation tractors by the end of the year, the latest move suggesting that driverless trucking is advancing more quickly than predicted.

Embark EMBK is one of the autonomous software startups that went public via SPAC in the past year. Despite the lack of appetite for its shares, which are trading at about half their initial price, the San Francisco-based Embark is continuing to build on its technology. 

In January, Embark announced autonomous testing in the snow, one of the tougher "edge cases" that driverless trucks will eventually need to master. Rival TuSimple said last week it will begin running driverless freight loads in conjunction with Union Pacific railways in Arizona.

Tuesday's announcement that Knight-Swift KNX will designate a "set" of its trucks to be equipped with the Embark Universal Interface is the first time a Level 4 system will be operated by a for-hire trucking firm. The number of trucks was undisclosed. Several autonomous trucking companies, including Embark, haul freight in supervised autonomous trucks.

Watch now: Embark will equip Knight-Swift trucks with its autonomous software


mbark, founded in 2016, has been working on autonomous trucking longer than most competitors. It has partnerships with some of the nation's largest shippers and carriers representing more than 35,000 trucks and $22 billion in annual freight spending.

Embark Universal Interface

The Embark approach of selling an autonomous system that can be integrated into any major manufacturer's truck differs from the approach by TuSimple, Aurora Innovation and Waymo Via, which are creating systems that fully integrate into the chassis of Navistar International, Volvo, Peterbilt and Freightliner Class 8 trucks. 

Embark claims its interface will work on any of those trucks. Knight-Swift is the first to participate in Embark's truck transfer program through which it will own and maintain an Embark-equipped truck. Carriers will eventually own or lease trucks with Embark software, paying a per-mile fee for the ability to operate without a human in the cab.

"This will allow Embark and Knight-Swift to collect detailed driver feedback on the technology's performance, define how the system will improve driver jobs, and develop procedures and tools that enable Knight-Swift to maintain, inspect, dispatch and remotely monitor Embark-equipped trucks," according to an Embark press release.

The transfer program will help Knight-Swift determine how best to use its drivers, when to have drivers haul loads alongside autonomous trucks or when to have drivers team drive with the Embark Driver, which is not subject to hours of service regulations.

Embark plans to deliver the first Embark-equipped trucks to Knight-Swift for use in daily operations by the end of 2022.

The FreightWaves Top 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes Knight-Swift (No. 3). 

Truck Tech: Snowy reception edition

Embark Trucks concludes SPAC but bolting investors take back $300M

Embark Trucks tallies 14,200 prelaunch reservations for driverless software

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler

This post contains sponsored advertising content. This content is for informational purposes only and not intended to be investing advice.

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