Arizona DOT agrees to data sharing partnership with self-driving truck company

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and Embark Trucks Inc. have agreed to work together to share information to promote safety in highway work zones when automated vehicles are deployed.

Embark announced the “first-of-its kind” partnership with ADOT on March 24 after both parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

“Under the nonbinding and nonexclusive MOU, Embark and ADOT intend on working together to share data that will support the continued safe navigation of highway work zones by autonomous trucks. Using data collected from its operations, Embark will provide Arizona with feedback on mutually-defined areas of interest such as infrastructure health, road design, and quality of publicly available work zone data. Embark will also provide technical briefings to Arizona officials to contribute to awareness of rapidly developing AV technology. ADOT, in turn, will share open-source data on work zones that can contribute to safe navigation. Both Embark and ADOT may seek to share with other public sector stakeholders any relevant findings that would facilitate the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles,” Embark said in a news release.

Embark says that this is the first time a government agency and an Automated Driving Systems developer have worked together to address work zone safety and autonomous vehicle deployment.

“ADOT is committed to supporting technological innovations that improve the safety of our highways. Work zone safety and automated vehicles are key examples of this commitment. We are proud of the work ADOT has done so far in advancing work zone safety and support the safe testing of autonomous vehicles. This collaboration with Embark creates the opportunity to combine those efforts. We look forward to the results of this effort and what lessons can be applied across the state,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski.

“Safely navigating work zones is an important requisite for any driver, including autonomous trucks. By working with ADOT, we’ve accelerated our ability to understand and safely navigate corner cases, moving us closer to our goal of deploying autonomous trucks,” said Embark Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Brandon Moak. “We are excited that our system’s ability to read signs, respond to traffic control devices, and detect workers, combined with its ‘always-on’ state that never gets fatigued or distracted, can be an important contributor to road safety in Arizona.”

Embark is a California-based startup founded in 2016 that focuses on a “middle mile approach” to autonomous truck deployment, operating only on limited access highways and short off-highway segments to distribution centers.

For more on how Embark trucks work, see the video below.