Ryder partnering with self-driving startup on freight network

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Updated Sep 21, 2021
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Embark plans to establish a network of strategically located transfer points through the partnership, where freight will be moved from driverless long-haul trucks to driver-enabled trucks for the first- and last-mile. Ryder plans to serve as the transfer point operator, managing the logistical operations throughout the yard, performing pre- and post-trip inspections, and providing maintenance services for the vehicles as well as the autonomous hardware.

Ryder (CCJ Top 250, No. 14) and autonomous truck tech upstart Embark Trucks are partnering to roll out a nationwide network of up to 100 Embark transfer points, where Ryder will provide yard operations, maintenance and fleet management to support a coast-to-coast autonomous network for Embark's fleet partners.

Embark first pioneered its transfer point model in 2019 with sites in Los Angeles and Phoenix, having since conducted hundreds of hauls through these sites, refining required transfer point capabilities and evaluating a range of service providers to fulfill those capabilities.

Embark plans to establish a network of strategically located transfer points through the partnership, where freight will be moved from driverless long-haul trucks to driver-enabled trucks for the first- and last-mile. Ryder plans to serve as the transfer point operator, managing the logistical operations throughout the yard, performing pre- and post-trip inspections, and providing maintenance services for the vehicles as well as the autonomous hardware.

“A fully developed transfer point has to include autonomous truck maintenance services and efficient yard operations,” said Embark CEO Alex Rodrigues. "By working with Ryder to offer best-in-class truck services throughout our transfer point network, we’re laying the groundwork for seamless coast-to-coast operations of Embark-equipped trucks.”

Initially, the partnership will focus on developing select sites in key freight markets in California, Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida, through which Embark plans to begin hauling loads in early 2022 in preparation for a larger commercial launch in 2024. Over the next five years, working with a network of real estate operators, the two companies aim to open as many as 100 Embark transfer points nationwide.

“The path to commercial adoption of autonomous trucks involves quite a bit more than integrating the technology that allows vehicles to drive safely on their own,” said Karen Jones, CMO and head of new product innovation at Ryder. “Someone needs to inspect the vehicles to identify potential problems, provide maintenance support, service the autonomous hardware, and coordinate load hand-offs, among other things. Through this partnership with Embark, we’re able to leverage nearly 90 years of Ryder’s operational expertise to support Embark’s growth plan.”

waiving in a truckEmbark first pioneered its transfer point model in 2019 with sites in Los Angeles and Phoenix.