- Kodiak Robotics and Pilot are looking to create an “autonomous truckport” in the Atlanta area, testing a model for future retrofits, according to a Tuesday news release.
- The companies plan to upgrade one existing travel center in the region with spaces to pick up and drop off “autonomous trucking loads; conduct inspections; maintain and refuel trucks; and the ability to transfer data for processing, such as feature development and mapping,” according to the press release. The companies are still determining the location and timing of the service center retrofit.
- Pilot’s “network of highway-adjacent travel centers provides unprecedented geographic reach” for Kodiak with the travel center company’s 700-plus locations, Don Burnette, founder and CEO of Kodiak, said in a statement.
Kodiak has already reached milestones with AV trucks driving across the country and automatically pulling over. Now, Kodiak has the backing of a nationwide retailer to help in its journey toward commercial autonomous trucks.
The partnership plans to transform one location — and possibly more — to meet emerging AV trucking needs. Using existing infrastructure, Kodiak can make its autonomous network “incredibly efficient,” Burnette said in an interview.
“With Pilot, ... this gives us access to their massive network of travel centers to utilize as the launchpad for our driverless deployment,” Burnette told Transport Dive, noting the partnership involves providing a location for storing trucks and serving as a terminal.
John Tully, VP of strategy and business development at Pilot, told Transport Dive that the Kodiak partnership is one way the service center retailer is seeking to learn, grow and aid future development.
With the partnership, Pilot made its first financial investment in Kodiak, an amount that wasn’t disclosed and occurred earlier this year, Tully said.
The commitment goes beyond finances, too. Kodiak is increasing its board of directors from three to five members, one of which will include a Pilot representative.
Pilot has embarked on a series of tech initiatives this year. In March, Pilot announced a $1 billion initiative to upgrade over 400 Pilot and Flying J travel centers. In July, the company also detailed its plans to create a network of EV charging stalls at even more of its locations.
“We’re just wanting to be able to grow in the way that the industry grows,” Tully said.