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Knight-Swift Placing Drivers Behind the Wheel of Autonomous Truck

Embark Trucks, an autonomous trucking startup, has just delivered its first Embark-Powered truck to Knight-Swift as part of the two companies’ joint Truck Transfer Program (TTP).

TTP initiative will allow Embark to gain valuable insights from having its system components operating in a carrier’s duty cycle. The program is the first of its kind in that the truck will be owned and operated by the carrier. In prior testing models from Embark as well as other autonomous developers, the developers themselves, own, maintain, and dispatch autonomous trucks with their own drivers behind the wheel during hauls.

Dave Jackson, Knight-Swift CEO, voiced his excitement at taking delivery of the autonomous-capable tractor, “so our drivers and customers can provide direct feedback on the technology as we use it in day-to-day operations to enable new safety and efficiency in trucking.”

Knight-Swift will be placing drivers behind the wheel of an Embark-powered truck to collect data regarding system safety and operational performance.

Embark and Knight-Swift have been working together on several operational initiatives to prepare for the handoff of Embark-powered trucks into Knight-Swift’s daily operations. These initiatives include developing maintenance procedures for AV systems, pre- and post-trip inspections, training and certifying Knight-Swift drivers, and creating escalation policies for maintenance issues. Embark has also worked to trained Knight-Swift technicians on how to service and interact with the trucks.

Embark Guardian, a system designed to monitor the Embark-powered trucks while on the road, is comprised of a combination of cloud-based fleet management software and personnel which will work together to monitor the health and safety of the truck’s system while operating.

Embark believes that the outside perspective and collaboration with Knight-Swift drivers will deliver critical insights to the system prior to the company executing its go-to-market strategy.

“Handing over the first Embark-powered truck to the Knight-Swift team tops off a year in which Embark has made critical strides to close the gap between testing our autonomous technology and scaling it across customer fleets,” said Embark CEO Alex Rodrigues. “The Truck Transfer Program will be a model for the industry as we move from the R&D and pilot phase toward commercialization.”