Ike, a developer of autonomous trucking technology, today announced partnerships with Ryder, DHL, and NFI to deploy Level 4 autonomous trucks on U.S. highways. Leading up to the launch of a commercial solution, Ike and these fleet customers are collaborating to provide feedback, perform testing, and prepare to launch and scale up operations.
As part of the “Powered by Ike” program, these fleets, as well as several others not yet announced, have collectively reserved the first 1,000 Class 8 tractors powered by Ike's technology, Ike said in a press announcement.
Ike, founded in 2018 by veterans of Google, Apple, and Uber, envisions autonomous trucks for highway routes that would then transfer loads to truckers in manually driven trucks for the journey to and from the interstate. Ike cites a Yale University study last year that analyzed Ike's handoff model that concluded that automation could create 140,000 new local truck driving jobs by 2030.
Ike says it plans to put its “technology directly into the hands of existing fleet operators” through a software subscription model. Ike's fleet customers will buy vehicles from OEM truck manufacturers with Ike's system of hardware and software already installed and pay Ike an annual subscription fee.
Trucks powered by Ike will be capable of operating in automated driving mode on designated freight routes, the company said. Ike plans for the subscription to include various support services, such as integration into digital tools to dispatch and manage the automated trucks, maintenance of new equipment, roadside support, and access for the physical handoff of freight to truckers.
In an August 28 blog post, Ike said its trucks have not driven with the automation system engaged on public roads; instead, they were gathering data while being driven manually. "Our engineering team’s entire effort has instead been focused on work we believe precedes public road testing: setting clear and rigorous requirements, designing and building robust development vehicles, laying a foundation with high quality software infrastructure, developing new functionality, and verifying the performance of our system with simulation and track testing," the post said.
“Working with these sophisticated fleet partners allows us to plug Ike's automation solution into huge existing logistics networks that already know how to move goods efficiently,” said Alden Woodrow, CEO and Co-founder of Ike. “Our skill sets are complementary, and we think we can make the most progress by working together."
"The industry is experiencing major disruption with ever-escalating consumer and business demands, regulatory and safety pressures, growth of e-commerce, as well as the rise of the sharing economy," said Karen Jones, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Ryder. "We are at the forefront of identifying new technology and fleet advancements, while acting as an extended research and development arm for our customers.”
"No industry has gained more prominence in the COVID-19 pandemic than logistics, with millions stuck at home sheltering-in-place and relying on delivery of food, medical supplies, and other essential items," said Jim Monkmeyer, president, Transportation, DHL Supply Chain North America. "Ike's automation solution is an excellent fit for DHL Supply Chain's accelerated digitalization approach, and will allow us to continue making our customers' supply chains more secure, flexible, and robust to handle future challenges like the one we have all faced in 2020."