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Ryder to build logistics network with stand-alone trucking company Embark – TechCrunch


Supply chain and fleet management solutions company Ryder has partnered with another stand-alone trucking company. On Thursday, Ryder announced plans to help Embark launch a nationwide network of up to 100 transfer points that will be owned and operated by the developer of autonomous trucking.

This is Ryder’s third public partnership with independent trucking companies. He recently announced plans currently underway to help Via Waymo develop its autonomous trucking activity by helping with the standardized maintenance and management of the fleet. Ryder also works with YouSimple to take advantage of its own facilities as terminals for start-up.

“We’re on the cutting edge and really starting to understand that AV could play a pretty big role in the future of transportation logistics, so we want to get in as early as possible and start working with these companies that seem to be dominating. the market with their technologies, ”Karen Jones, Ryder executive vice president for new product innovation, told TechCrunch.

While Ryder was in talks with other audiovisual companies like Kodiak, Aurora and More, Jones said no further deals were in the works. Jones says Ryder hopes to learn and grow through the different use cases provided by its existing partnerships, as well as deliver a replicable staging hub model that will help the company get to market faster.

“I think as we advance this technology there is still a lot of unknowns about how to maintain, maintain and operate,” Jones said. “Ryder is a natural partner for us because we have huge facilities for maintenance, and we also have our supply chain and logistics business. We are a true operator who knows how these facilities work and the complexity of entering and exiting vehicles for delivery to larger facilities. “

As part of its partnership with Embark, Ryder will provide yard operations, maintenance and fleet management. It will also play an advisory role on the Embark network of strategically located transfer points where freight is moved from driverless long-haul trucks to driver-controlled trucks for first and last mile delivery.

Ryder helps Embark understand what is required at the facilities and works with Embark’s third-party partners who will build or locate sites for these facilities, Jones said. Initially, the companies will select locations in major freight markets in California, Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida, through which Embark can begin operations early next year with a view to developing. ” a larger commercial launch in 2024.

Image credits: Embark

Autonomous companies often choose Sun Belt regions to start their operations because it is rare to have to account for adverse weather conditions such as snow and sleet, making the environment optimal for testing. But over the next five years, Embark and Ryder aim to work with a network of real estate operators to open 100 Embark transfer points across the country.

Currently, Embark, which recently announced its intention to go public via a PSPC deal, carries freight for companies like manufacturers HP and Budweiser AB inBev, as well as Knight Swift Transportation, Werner Enterprises and other “Top 25 Truck Carriers in America,” according to CEO Alex Rodrigues.

Rodrigues says Emark’s current freight partnerships are either pilots or smaller-scale versions of what the company plans to launch in the future. The company now has a fleet of 16 trucks that operate exclusively on highways with a human safety operator in the front seat in case, but generally, the driver does not have to take over, even if AV encounters a new scenario.

Operating only on highways means building a network of off-highway transfer centers, which is actually quite essential, although it will take a lot of capital and time to scale. TuSimple, by comparison, works on both freeways and surface streets, or streets that are not part of a freeway and have grade-level intersections with other surface streets. The startup’s AVs don’t go to residential areas, so they don’t do last mile delivery, but they can access distribution centers and warehouses more easily, according to TuSimple. This ability allows startup to use existing Ryder locations and upgrade them to serve as TuSimple terminals, rather than building new terminals like Embark does.

Waymo Via also builds its own hubs, and Ryder’s fleet maintenance, inspections and roadside assistance will help Waymo’s autonomous trucking arm to scale these locations as well as maximize vehicle uptime and reliability.

As Ryder lends his varied capabilities to all of these different use cases, he is able to consider his own potential in the AV space, and not just in the logistics of it all. Jones said the company was willing to someday operate an autonomous fleet if it made sense to do so on behalf of a customer, and that it was also very entrenched in its first and last mile delivery services. .

“Ryder has a number of spaces to play as the whole AV initiative evolves, but our first foray into this area is really maintenance and starting to understand the technology, as well as the requirements for operating the hubs, ”Jones said.