In the near future, autonomous trucking technology has the potential to free human drivers from working tedious long-haul miles behind the wheel. Technology companies, like Waymo, Kodiak, Plus, and Embark, are applying their resources to developing this self-driving technology so that it can be applied to existing trucks made by leading manufacturers. This strategy represents a service model for the autonomous vehicle (AV) sector that is meant to enhance the capabilities of trucks. AV industry leaders view this as a practical approach because technology experts can focus on AV sensors and computing while truck manufacturers can do what they do best, which is build vehicles.

AV Tech Testing Continues On Many Truck Models

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Waymo has outfitted some Peterbilt 579s with its AV system and tested it on busy Texas highways. AV trucks running Waymo systems have also been road-tested in New Mexico, California, and Arizona.

At Embark, the company’s business model has always pursued a versatile AV platform. Its engineers are working to establish standards for self-driving mechanisms flexible enough to be installed on any truck. Since 2017, the company has tested trucks on highways in the Southwest.

Autonomous truck cab on display. Credit: Oregon Department of Transportation

Development of the Embark Universal Interface requires perfecting two sides of the equation. Embark engineers must build sensors and a computing system that can interpret real-world inputs and operate the vehicle. The second part of the system involves the hardware connections between the AV system and a truck’s mechanical elements, like the power train and brakes. This process will enable manufacturers to build the next generation of trucks ready for a plug-and-play AV connection.

Mass Production Around The Corner

Autonomous truck developer Plus has a working system that can be retrofitted to existing trucks or built-in during the manufacturing stage. The company has 10,000 preorders and plans to start mass production later in 2021. It expects AV trucks with human assistant drivers to be working on roads in China, the United States, and Europe.

Uber OTTO autonomous driving truck. Credit: Steve Jurvetson

AV technology will eventually enable 24-hour truck movement. Do you think that AV will make the trucking industry more profitable?


Waymo is building a driver—not a car. Waymo’s goal is to build technology that’s a safe, cautious, and defensive driver—and the most experienced driver on the road. Ultimately, Waymo’s technology will be a fully autonomous driving system, allowing people to stay passengers the entire trip.

Waymo is designed to operate without a human driver, unlike technologies sold in cars today such as adaptive cruise-control or lane-keeping systems which require constant monitoring by the driver. Waymo can handle the entire dynamic driving task within a geographic area and under certain defined conditions.

About Kodiak

Kodiak was founded with the belief that a world-class team focused on long-haul trucking could quickly catch up to the burgeoning autonomous trucking industry, and surpass it.

We received our first truck in December 2018 and carried our first commercial load from Dallas-Fort Worth to Houston just eight months later. Now, two years after our first autonomous loop around our parking lot, we are making disengage-free customer deliveries on Texas highways.


Trucking is the backbone of our country’s economy, society and our personal lives, quietly moving goods we use and eat every day. We are applying automated driving technology to trucks today so that fleets and drivers can start benefiting from this revolutionary technology. Our automated driving system, PlusDrive, will improve the lives of truck drivers around the world, while saving lives lost to heavy truck-related accidents and making our world greener through reduced carbon emissions.  Safety is our top priority, with every truck equipped with a 360° multi-modal sensor fusion system.

We care about the environment, and have designed our system with proprietary algorithms that are constantly optimizing fuel use, thus saving 10% to 20% in fuel costs and leaving everyone with a greener planet.  Customer satisfaction is important to us. PlusDrive trucks have been tested by top fleets, and are ready to be deployed by top fleets and truck manufacturers.

ABOUT Embark

Embark is building self-driving truck technology to make roads safer and transportation more efficient. We’re moving the entire trucking industry forward.

Embark’s technology is already moving freight for five Fortune 500 companies in the southwest U.S. By moving real freight through our purpose-built transfer hubs, we are setting a new standard for how driverless trucks will move freight in the future. Watch the video to learn more.

Embark has compiled many firsts for automated trucks, including driving across the country, operating in rain and fog, and navigating between transfer hubs. Embark is advancing the state of the art in automated trucks and bringing safe, efficient commercial transport closer every day.

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