Mapping a route to the future of autonomous trucks

Drivers, Technology and Innovation

U.S. Xpress forges a new partnership with Embark.

Getting goods where they’re going is a big, complex job, and finding new ways to do it better is what drives us at U.S. Xpress.

The latest example is our partnership with Embark Trucks, a leader in autonomous technology for the trucking industry. U.S. Xpress has joined the Embark Partner Development Program and will add its terminals to the Embark Coverage Map. That means U.S. Xpress properties will become part of a pioneering network of transfer points where freight from driverless, long-haul trucks is transferred to driver-operated trucks for first- and last-mile delivery.

This is just the latest in a series of partnerships aimed at moving goods better by combining the best technology in the industry with the know-how of professional drivers. Because autonomous trucks don’t have human drivers, there are no limits on the hours they can run. Autonomous trucks will service longer-haul lanes, allowing drivers to focus on routes that keep them closer to home and provide more regular schedules.

The outcome? More capacity, more miles, more options for moving goods better —  all without adding strain to the people who work so hard to keep our industry moving. The technology also promises to help alleviate a driver shortage already testing the supply chain, a shortage that is only expected to worsen. Based on industry estimates, we’ll need approximately 1 million more professional truck drivers within the next 10 to 15 years.

“We’ve established U.S. Xpress as a carrier leader in autonomous trucking, and this partnership is further evidence of our intention to be an early adopter of autonomous vehicle technology,” said Eric Fuller, President & CEO of U.S. Xpress. “Through this partnership with Embark, we’re taking the next important step in planning and preparing our terminal network to support executing our autonomous strategy.”

Since 2019, U.S. Xpress has also worked with TuSimple, and in 2021, began testing its autonomous technology on select lanes for a few of our customers. In early 2022, U.S. Xpress partnered with Aurora to study the best ways to find commercial applications for autonomous vehicle technology. As part of the collaboration, Aurora will gather data from our Variant fleet to study where and on what types of routes its artificial intelligence-enabled driving system could be deployed most effectively. And in March 2022, we announced a partnership with Kodiak Robotics to launch the first ever level four autonomous freight delivery service between Dallas and Atlanta using Kodiak’s self-driving trucks. As part of this partnership, we completed a pilot running 24 hours a day for nearly five and-a-half days, traveling approximately 6,350 miles and delivering eight loads between Dallas and Atlanta.

But this futuristic approach to hauling loads still depends on the people who power our business and keep goods moving. As the technology matures, U.S. Xpress will add self-driving trucks to our diversified mix of supply chain offerings. Those trucks will create more capacity, which will give our customers more options, and also give drivers more flexibility and predictability in their work lives. That’s a route worth traveling together.

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