IKEA is working with Kodiak Robotics to ship products from a distribution center to a store, offering both companies data from their test runs. This isn't necessarily an attempt to wipe out human truck drivers, but to free up those interested in switching to local short routes.
Since early August, Kodiak and IKEA move freight daily from a Baytown-based IKEA distribution center to a brick-and-mortar store in Frisco. The trip is around 300 miles. The semi-truck runs Kodiak's autonomous driving system, though a human truck driver is responsible for picking up the loaded trailer each morning. Once connected, the truck driver is responsible for supervising the autonomous trip until a successful delivery in the late afternoon.
As stated by Dariusz Mroczek, Category Area Transport Manager for IKEA Supply Chain Operations: "We are proud to be working with Kodiak to achieve our ambitious goals of being at the forefront of innovation and building capabilities for future transportation. Kodiak's technology will contribute towards our objective to put the driver in focus in the transition towards automated transportation and towards our road safety agenda."
Autonomous trucks consume about 10% less diesel than humans manually driving, according to a study from the University of California at San Diego. If implemented properly, autonomous truck adoption may lead to a more efficient and sustainable freight infrastructure - and researchers are making progress.
Kodiak and Warner Enterprises also have partnered for autonomous big rig testing, promoting the effectiveness of driverless technology. The company has also worked with U.S. Xpress and other partners to test autonomous freight deliveries from Dallas to Florida and Atlanta. These are multi-year projects to collect more data and experience from controlled runs.
Autonomous travel on US highways might be easier to achieve than in urban and congested areas. In the past, there were discussions related to dedicated autonomous trucks on the highway one day.