Knight-Swift to become first fleet to own, maintain autonomous truck

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Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022:

Knight-Swift partners with Embark for autonomous truck deployment

Autonomous tech developer Embark Trucks and Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings (CCJ Top 250, No. 4) on Tuesday announced the launch of the Truck Transfer Program, intended to give Knight-Swift and its drivers direct access to Embark’s technology.

The Truck Transfer Program marks the first public initiative through which a U.S. carrier will directly own and maintain an Embark-equipped truck and is a major step on the path to eventual purchase and ownership of Embark-equipped trucks by carriers, the companies said in a press release.

To date, Embark and other autonomous developers have operated a testing model in which they own, maintain and dispatch autonomous trucks, placing their own drivers behind the wheel during hauls for shipper and carrier partners. This configuration has generated valuable early insights into real-world technology performance and how best to integrate Embark-equipped trucks within existing supply chain operations.

The Truck Transfer Program is an industry-first testing configuration that aims to unlock the next level of development necessary for commercialization. The companies say this is the first time that the carrier – Knight-Swift – will own an autonomous truck, maintain and deploy the truck, and place their own driver behind the wheel.

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.

Currently, Knight-Swift and Embark are preparing the truck technology and carrier process flows necessary for the launch of this industry-first program. Embark plans to equip a set of Knight-Swift trucks from the carrier’s slated 2022 OEM deliveries with the Embark Universal Interface. The two companies are also developing workflows to account for truck maintenance, dispatching and IT integration points, among other things, to ensure seamless integration of Embark technology. Embark plans to deliver the first Embark-equipped trucks to Knight-Swift for use in daily operations by the end of 2022.

Fuel prices near $4/gallon national average

With a 10.5-cent jump during the week ending Feb. 7, the U.S.’ national average for diesel is the closest it’s been to $4 since the week ending May 5, 2014.

The U.S.’ average for a gallon of on-highway diesel is now $3.951, the highest since it was $3.964 nearly eight years ago. Diesel prices haven’t topped $4 a gallon since a four-week stretch in 2014 from the week ending Feb. 24 though the week ending March 17.

Prices increased in all regions across the country last week, with the most significant increase being seen in the Lower Atlantic region, where prices jumped by 13.5 cents.

The nation’s most expensive diesel can be found in California at $4.949 per gallon, followed by the West Coast less California at $4.25 per gallon.

The cheapest fuel can be found in the Gulf Coast region at $3.73 per gallon, followed by Midwest at $3.808 per gallon.

Prices in other regions, according to DOE, are:

  • New England – $3.947
  • Central Atlantic – $4.098
  • Lower Atlantic – $3.896
  • Rocky Mountain – $3.861

ProMiles’ numbers during the same week saw fuel prices increase by 7.7 cents, bringing its national average to $3.737 per gallon.

According to ProMiles’ Fuel Surcharge Index, the most expensive diesel can be found in California at $4.815 per gallon, and the cheapest can be found in the Gulf Coast region at $3.581 per gallon. 

TCA opens Highway Angel of the Year voting to public

The Truckload Carriers announced that for the first time in the program’s history, the winner of its Highway Angel of the Year Award will be chosen by the public.

Since its inception in 1997, TCA’s Highway Angel program has recognized professional truck drivers for the exemplary courtesy and courage they have shown others while on North America’s roadways. TCA, the award’s presenting sponsor EpicVue, and supporting sponsor DriverFacts, recognize more than 75 recipients a year, with nearly 1,300 to date.

Highway Angels are nominated by their employers, fellow truck drivers, or the motorists they’ve assisted and saved. 

Beginning Feb. 8, the public is encouraged to cast their vote for the truck driver or team who best embodies the spirit of the program. More information on the nominations of the three finalists and voting is available here. The deadline to vote is Friday, Feb. 18.

The finalists for the 2021 Highway Angel of the Year Award are:

Christopher Lloyd, Airline Transportation Specialists, stopped at an accident where a car erupted in flames. After calling 911, Lloyd used tools from his truck to gain access to the victims, extinguish the fire, and ultimately save their lives.

Calvin and Corey Williams, Armellini Express Lines, Inc., witnessed a vehicle go down a steep embankment in below freezing temperatures. After contacting 911, the twin brothers climbed down the embankment and, after finding victims with serious injuries, they stayed for four hours until help arrived at the remote area. 

Addis Tekelu, CKJ Transport, while driving at night observed a vehicle go off the road and into a wooded area. After contacting 911, he followed the tire tracks until he found the vehicle where the driver was trapped, and then stayed with her until emergency services arrived.

The winner of the 2021 Highway Angel of the Year Award will be announced during TCA’s Annual Convention, Truckload 2022: Las Vegas, on the morning of Tuesday, March 22 at the Wynn Las Vegas. In addition to being recognized at TCA’s Annual Convention and receiving a personalized crystal truck, the winner receives a complimentary EpicVue satellite TV package that includes a 24-inch flat screen TV, a DVR, and a one-year subscription to over 100 channels of DirecTV programming.