Kodiak Forms Autonomous Truck Council With Walmart, UPS

Council Will Focus on Product Development, Deployment, Public Engagement
Kodiak Robotics truck
(Kodiak Robotics)

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Kodiak Robotics launched an advisory council to bolster its efforts to commercialize autonomous trucks with the help of trucking industry leaders, the company announced March 27.

The Kodiak Industry Advisory Council will focus on product development, deployment and public engagement related to commercializing autonomous trucks. The Arkansas Trucking Association, Loadsmith, Walmart, Werner Enterprises and UPS are among the inaugural members.

“Kodiak’s Industry Advisory Council was designed to bring a variety of additional perspectives, including those of fleets, regulators and trucking industry groups, to determine how we can best scale our technology in the coming years,” Michael Wiesinger, vice president of commercialization at Kodiak, told Transport Topics. “The Industry Advisory Council will help us shape our approach as we work to integrate our autonomous trucking technology into fleets’ existing operations and ensure we solve our customers’ biggest pain points.”

Kodiak is a technology company focused on autonomous transportation for both the trucking and defense industries. It has forged partnerships with companies across the trucking space since its founding in 2018. That includes for the deployment of real-world freight movements using its technology. The council aims to focus those relationships to better utilize their expertise.

“Over the last six years, Kodiak has built deep relationships with many of the freight industry’s most prominent thought leaders, from both the public and private sectors,” Wiesinger said. “We wanted to find a structure where we could channel their expertise into helping us develop Kodiak’s business as we prepare for fully autonomous operations. We established the Industry Advisory Council to make a real difference in the way we approach our business.”

Walmart Inc. ranks No. 2 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest private carriers in North America.

Kodiak board member James Reed was selected to be the council chairman. He also is vice president of transportation development at Walmart. His career has been split between digital technologies and transportation, with autonomous truck development bringing both skill sets to the forefront. He also helped start American Trucking Associations’ diversity, equity and inclusion subcommittee.

“Kodiak’s Industry Advisory Council will help carry us through our next phase of growth, as we work alongside our partners to safely and efficiently deploy our driverless technology,” Reed said. “We’re fortunate to have such an esteemed group of industry luminaries whose range of experience includes work with industry-leading shippers, carriers, safety advocates and regulators. Their unique perspectives will help to lead and shape the ways we approach industry and driver engagement.”

UPS ranks No. 1 on the TT Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America and No. 2 on the TT 50 global freight list.

The other founding members of the council include Chad Dittberner, senior vice president of dry and expedited services at Werner; Anne Ferro, former administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; William Kruger, vice president of fleet maintenance and engineering at UPS; Shannon Newton, president of the Arkansas Trucking Association; and Brett Suma, founder of Loadsmith.

Werner ranks No. 17 on the TT Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America and No. 34 on the TT Top 100 list of the largest logistics companies.

The Industry Advisory Council will hold quarterly meetings to address questions, such as public education about autonomous trucks and the steps that can be taken to increase customer adoption of that technology. Kodiak said the aim will be to guide and influence its product and strategic road map in a way that will help to shape autonomous development to benefit the trucking industry and society.

“The autonomous trucking industry is at a pivotal moment,” Wiesinger said. “It’s not a question of whether self-driving technology will happen but rather when it’s going to happen. Assembling this council in a way that ensures all perspectives are heard, from large fleets to startups to regulators and leading industry groups. These perspectives will smooth the path for the adoption of autonomous trucks and help us ensure that the adoption of this technology works to improve trucking for everyone.”

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