Pic Of Amazon “Driverless” Truck Along I-10 Has People Freaking Out
Little Rock, Arkansas – When a Reditt user snapped a picture this week of an autonomous truck built by Embark pulling an Amazon trailer operating along I-10, he had no idea it was going to create such a buzz, but it has.
A user going by the name of u/ThatKidWhoReadsALot posted the picture on the social media platform with the question, “Saw this on the I-10 today. Is amazon making driverless trucks?” Questions began swirling as to what was going on.
Media outlets all over the world began feverishly asking questions and bombarding Amazon and Embark with inquiries. Transportation Nation Network (TNN) has since learned Amazon is deploying Embark’s autonomous trucks to haul some of its loads.
Embark claims to be the “world’s leading developer of self-driving trucks.” The company integrates its self-driving systems into Peterbilt semis, rather than building its own trucks.
On its website Embark says the company is “putting our technology to work moving freight in the real world,” and claims to be partnering with Ryder and Electrolux. There is no mention of Amazon though, and many, including TNN, wondered why.
A new report by CNBC helps shed some light on the situation. Embark CEO Alex Rodrigues told the news outlet this week, “Embark moves freight for a number of major companies on the I-10, however we cannot discuss any company specifically as our relationships are confidential.”
An Amazon spokesperson told CNBC, “We are always innovating and working with innovative companies to improve the customer experience and safety of our team. We think successful over-the-road autonomy will create safer roadways and a better work environment for drivers on long-haul runs.”
Also, the report noted that both companies refused to comment further about the nature of their agreement. It is unclear how many loads Embark is moving for Amazon, but what is clear is leaders from both companies believe more autonomous trucks will be on U.S. roadways soon.
They are not alone. Just last month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, top executives from Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) announced to investors and customers that they expect to put a “highly automated” level 4 autonomous truck on U.S. roadways this year. “We will make automated trucks a true American success story,” said Roger Nielsen, President & C.E.O. of DTNA.
Nielsen also said DTNA was investing more than $500 million in their plans to integrate new automated technologies into its vehicles. DTNA, along with Embark, is going to have a lot of competition as we set out on the new autonomous truck frontier.
Start-up autonomous truck makers such as Ike, Thor Trucks and Pronto.ai, and major players such as Alphabet’s Waymo and Tesla are all aiming to get ahead of the pack. It remains to be seen which companies will win the most market share in this emerging sector, but companies are racing to position themselves for success.