Embark Trucks, Inc., a developer of autonomous technology for the trucking industry, announced that U.S. Xpress joined the Embark Partner Development Program and plans to add its terminals to the Embark Coverage Map. This partnership marks a significant milestone by adding a fleet's properties into an autonomous truck developer's transfer point network, according to a company statement.
Embark stated that it pioneered the transfer point model in 2019 when the company unveiled its first sites in Los Angeles and Phoenix. Transfer points are used to move freight from driverless, long-haul trucks to driver-enabled trucks for first- and last-mile delivery. Since developing the model, Embark has conducted hundreds of hauls through these sites, refining required transfer point features and developing process flows for important onsite activities.
U.S. Xpress’ nationwide terminal network presents an opportunity for a carrier to leverage its existing real estate footprint to support efficient autonomous trucking operations. Through this partnership, Embark and U.S. Xpress will identify priority terminals based on traffic patterns, customer needs, and technical requirements. The companies will start with two terminals in Sunbelt states, creating a clear path to opening a high-volume lane for autonomous hauling.
The two companies plan to co-develop an onsite operations playbook that captures standard processes for when autonomous trucks enter U.S. Xpress properties. Expected solutions will include gate access, onsite vehicle movement, trailer swap procedures, inspections, data and power management, and more. By developing these procedures now, U.S. Xpress believes that it will be able to quickly integrate Embark-powered autonomous trucks as a complement to professional truck drivers within its operations.
"Through our partnership with U.S. Xpress, we have identified a unique opportunity to leverage U.S. Xpress' existing truck terminals, unlocking a more seamless scaling process," said Alex Rodrigues, CEO of Embark. "By utilizing existing truck terminals for transfer operations, Embark autonomous trucks will be able to more easily integrate with existing U.S. Xpress network assets such as last-mile driver capacity, parking, and maintenance services."