IKEA is partnering with a self-driving trucking company on a new pilot program that would expand the Swedish retailer’s delivery capabilities between its facilities in Houston and Frisco.
California-based Kodiak Robotics Inc., a leader in the self-driving trucking industry, announced Wednesday that it had started cooperation with IKEA Supply Chain Operations to deliver autonomous freight deliveries in Texas.
Since the partnership began on August 8, Kodiak’s autonomous heavy-duty truck has made daily deliveries between the IKEA Distribution Center in Baytown and the IKEA Store in Frisco, the self-driving trucking company said in a press release.
“We are proud to be working with Kodiak to achieve our ambitious goals of being at the forefront of innovation and building capabilities for future transportation,” said Dariusz Mroczek, category area transport manager for IKEA Supply Chain Operations.
Kodiak has been a leader in the self-driving space since 2019, making the company’s autonomous driving system an ideal fit for IKEA. With a roughly 300-mile stretch between Houston and Frisco, Texas’ long stretches of highways make the state a favorable location to test drive Kodiak’s new autonomous pilot program.
“Kodiak’s technology will contribute towards our objective to put the driver in focus in the transition towards automated transportation and towards our road safety agenda,” said Mroczek.
Although Kodiak’s technology is shifting the way the freight delivery industry is run, the company insisted that its business is not about putting truck drivers out of a job. Instead, they stated that their main purpose is to get a better understanding of how Kodiak’s autonomous driving technology contributes to increased road safety and better working conditions for truck drivers on long-distance trips.
According to Kodiak, the self-driving truck has a professional safety truck driver behind the wheel who picks up a loaded trailer at the distribution center each morning and oversees the autonomous delivery to the store by late afternoon.
“IKEA and Kodiak share a commitment to putting safety first,” said Don Burnette, founder and CEO of Kodiak Robotics. “Together we can enhance safety, improve working conditions for drivers, and create a more sustainable freight transportation system. Adopting autonomous trucking technology can improve drivers’ quality of life by focusing on the local driving jobs most prefer to do. We look forward to working with the IKEA carrier partners to bring these benefits to the IKEA supply chain.”
Besides its route from Houston to Frisco, Kodiak Robotics has also recently opened up a new route between Dallas and Oklahoma City. Other firms to partner with Kodiak on its pilot tests include the trucking and logistics companies Werner Enterprises and U.S. Xpress.