Three major trucking companies subscribe to self-driving truck service

An automated truck technology provider announced partnerships with three large trucking companies to deploy self-driving truck technology on U.S. roadways.

On Tuesday, San Francisco-based self-driving truck tech company “Ike” announced that three major U.S. trucking companies had entered into their “Powered by Ike” customer program — Ryder System, Inc., DHL, and NFI.

Ike says that these three fleets (along with several others that the company did not name) have reserved their first 1000 Class 8 tractors with “level 4” automation.

“The customers we are announcing today, Ryder, DHL, and NFI, have spent decades building massive logistics networks that support our economy. Their fleets of trucks and their many other products and services move everything we use across the United States every day. They are also early adopters of new technologies and have invested heavily in digital tools, electrification, and automation in many parts of their businesses,” Ike said in a blog post.

The Powered By Ike program will operate as a subscription service that allows customers to purchase OEM trucks with automated driving technology already installed. Customers then pay a yearly subscription fee for access to various support services.

Ike says that they will employ a “handoff model” when utilizing their highly automated truck technology, meaning that trucks will drive themselves on interstates and highways, after which they’ll be handed off to a professional driver who will be responsible for driving them to their final destination.

Ike says that the handoff model “creates new opportunities for truck drivers to use their skills and expertise where it matters most, while increasing fleet utilization to help Ike’s customers improve their operating margins.”

Ike also cites a Yale University study that predicts that automation could create 140,000 local truck driving jobs by 2030.

“The industry is experiencing major disruption with ever-escalating consumer and business demands, regulatory and safety pressures, growth of e-commerce, as well as the rise of the sharing economy,” said Karen Jones, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Ryder. “We are at the forefront of identifying new technology and fleet advancements, while acting as an extended research and development arm for our customers. Working with an automation technology leader such as Ike is a continuation of this journey.”

“No industry has gained more prominence in the COVID-19 pandemic than logistics, with millions stuck at home sheltering-in-place and relying on delivery of food, medical supplies, and other essential items,” said Jim Monkmeyer, President, Transportation, DHL Supply Chain North America.  “Ike’s automation solution is an excellent fit for DHL Supply Chain’s accelerated digitalization approach, and will allow us to continue making our customers’ supply chains more secure, flexible, and robust to handle future challenges like the one we have all faced in 2020.” 

Our approach to innovation and the people that deliver our solutions are key to the customer value that NFI delivers,” said Ike Brown, President and Vice Chairman of NFI. “We are excited to add automated trucking technology to our growing innovation portfolio and accelerate the supply chain industry, similar to what we have been able to do with our early adoption of electric vehicles.”