We know autonomy. Our partners know trucking.
The biggest mistake Silicon Valley tech companies often make is focusing too much on building technology, not scalable products. When we started Kodiak, we were as guilty of this as anyone. But over the last five years, we realized something pretty obvious: trucking is a tough business, and it’s not the business we know best. Our partners have taught us a ton about our industry: from safety to operations to maintenance. And from them, we have also learned that we cannot deliver the best autonomous driving solution without their help. Only by working together can we build a solution that will positively transform the trucking sector and solve the industry’s persistent challenges. Last year, we launched the Kodiak Partner Deployment Program (PDP) to structure our work with our commercial partners – we’re excited to talk more about the PDP and explain why we see it as absolutely critical to the commercialization of autonomous trucking technology.
Developing a Product that Solves Our Partner’s Pain Points
Trucking is the lifeblood of the American economy, but the trucking industry faces real challenges: driver shortages, massive turnover, and more. Over the last few years, the industry has begun to recognize that autonomous driving technology will be key to solving these persistent issues, with many of the largest carriers dedicating time and resources to implementing autonomous trucks. Many have already announced partnerships with Kodiak and our colleagues in the autonomous trucking industry.
But the transition to autonomy is going to take some work. Each company faces its own set of challenges: unique networks, operations, service and maintenance processes, transportation management systems, and more. A one-size-fits-all autonomous solution simply will not work. We must constantly listen to our customers and adapt our solution to address their distinct pain points.
Building on the road, not in the lab
Five years ago, Kodiak was laser-focused on development: on-road operations were, at best, an afterthought. Not anymore. We’ve learned the best way to develop our technology is to put it through its paces in the real world. Every month, we consistently haul more than six million pounds of freight across five different lanes, covering over 55,000 miles. We haul freight with some of the biggest names in logistics, including Maersk, IKEA, Werner, C.R. England, Tyson, 10 Roads Express, CEVA, Forward, and many more. We carry real loads and pressure test our technology within their network and operations. For each of these miles, we incorporate the data we collect and the feedback we receive into our development pipeline, ensuring we are building an autonomy system our partners will love to deploy. Working with such a breadth of companies, from truckload carriers to private fleets to logistics service providers, and hauling a range of goods, including furniture to frozen food and everything in between, helps us ensure we are building an autonomy solution that is tailored to solve our partner’s biggest supply chain challenges.
Forging the Path to Autonomy with Our Partners
Our partners have an opportunity to be at the forefront of discovering the benefits that autonomy can bring to their operations, and being a preferred partner allows them to influence our roadmap and prioritize the geographies and deployment setups that address their specific challenges first. This will allow them to be the first to provide a safer and more reliable transportation solution to their customers.
Our customers appreciate our approach. Erez Agmoni, Maersk’s Global Head of Innovation – Logistics & Services, recently stated that “Teaming with Kodiak enables Maersk to stay at the forefront of innovative solutions. Autonomous trucks will play an instrumental role in digitizing the supply chain. We expect self-driving trucks to ultimately become a competitive advantage for Maersk as we execute on our strategy to provide customers with a sustainable, end-to-end logistics solution across air, land and sea.”
Throughout these partnerships, we have built trust by listening and providing excellent customer service – an underappreciated benefit in an industry like trucking. Now, we are deepening these relationships, moving beyond today’s operations and setting the stage for the driverless era.
The Kodiak Partner Deployment Program: Transitioning Towards a Driverless Future
We started the PDP after realizing that we can’t flip a switch and move towards autonomy: the work of integrating the Kodiak Driver into partner operations needs to start today. The PDP focuses on developing strong relationships so we can walk in lockstep towards an autonomous future. The program also allows us to better guide our development work as we plan to facilitate seamless integration and transition to autonomy.
Before a company joins the PDP, we work with them to pinpoint how autonomy will benefit their business. Resources are precious, and we want to ensure there are significant advantages for a company before they commit to early autonomy adoption. Once we determine there is a substantial business case, we sign an agreement to bring them under the Partner Deployment Program umbrella. After joining, we begin a complete 360-degree discovery process, analyzing their network, understanding their systems and operations, and pinpointing what lanes they run today that will be the best autonomous test cases for them and for us. Everything we do together furthers our autonomy development while also providing value today to our partners. Ultimately, we are planning for the strategic roll-out of the technology to provide our partners with the highest possible return on investment.
We have already made significant progress in identifying and providing solutions for various aspects of operations. For example, we have helped our partners identify which of their trailer assets are ready for autonomy, assessed which partner facilities are most suitable for Truckport operations, and hosted workshops and forums about major operational issues, including the CVSA Enhanced Inspections that will govern AV trucking.
This close collaboration is how we will bring driverless trucks to our partners’ fleets to solve their biggest transportation challenges and enable them to deliver their customers’ goods safely, more reliably, and more efficiently.
Our partners will be the first ones to deploy autonomous trucks in their fleets. We’re well underway to deploy initial integrations, so come join the Partner Deployment Program if you want to be at the forefront of building the future of trucking!