A week after Uber shut down its self-driving truck program following a fatal crash in 2018, a former company member raised $40 million to get the robotics startup Kodiak off the ground. Today Kodiak announced a partnership with IKEA to deliver supplies to the retailer’s store in Frisco using autonomous trucks.
While autonomous trucks drive themselves, as their name suggests, they still have professional truck drivers behind the wheel. According to the California-based company, self-driving technology contributes to increasing safety on the road while providing better working conditions to drivers on longer distances at the same time.
“IKEA and Kodiak share a commitment to putting safety first,” said Don Burnette, founder and CEO of Kodiak Robotics. “Adopting autonomous trucking technology can improve drivers’ quality of life by focusing on the local driving jobs most prefer to do. We look forward to working with the IKEA carrier partners to bring these benefits to the IKEA supply chain.”
The way it works, a driver picks up a loaded trailer at IKEA’s distribution center at Baytown, Tx each morning and then oversees the autonomous delivery all the way to IKEA’s store in Frisco by late afternoon.
“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,” said Dariusz Mroczek, Category Area Transport Manager, IKEA Supply Chain Operations.
The announcement is recent, but this collaboration has been going on since August, and it’s not the first time the robotics company’s partnerships cross North Texan roads. In April Kodiak and the Tennessee-based U.S. Xpress launched a Level 4 autonomous freight service connecting Dallas-Fort Worth to Atlanta.
Dallas seems to be a central point for Kodiak’s plans as they announced commercial operations between Dallas and Oklahoma City in March, Dallas and Houston back in mid-2019 and Dallas and San Antonio in mid-2021.