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IKEA teams starts self-driving truck startup to test deliveries

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Mehr Ali Altaf
Mehr Ali Altafhttps://www.khaama.com
Mehr Ali is a young bilingual journalist from Afghanistan working for the English language version of Khaama Press online. His main responsibility include researching and writing news reports for the sports, tech and entertainment sections.

Self-driving truck startup Kodiak Robotics said that it has begun a pilot program with IKEA in Texas.

A semitruck equipped with Kodiak’s autonomous driving system is making daily delivery runs from an IKEA warehouse near Houston to a store close to Dallas, roughly 300 miles away.

The trucks have human safety drivers on board, but they’re being driven by Kodiak’s autonomous-driving system.

Kodiak’s CEO, Don Burnette, said that he isn’t looking to put truck drivers out of business – in fact, he’s aiming to make their lives easier.

“Adopting autonomous trucking technology can improve drivers’ quality of life by focusing on the local driving jobs most prefer to do,” Burnette said. “Together [with IKEA] we can enhance safety, improve working conditions for drivers, and create a more sustainable freight transportation system.”

This isn’t Kodiak’s first self-driving rodeo. The company has been running freight in Texas with its autonomous test trucks since 2019, and recently opened a new route between Dallas and Oklahoma City. Kodiak has also conducted pilot tests with logistics giants Werner Enterprises and U.S. Xpress, running self-driving trucks on routes from Dallas to Lake City, Florida, and Atlanta, respectively.

Texas has become a hotbed for self-driving truck testing, in part because of favorable regulations — and also because the long highway stretches between its cities are ideal for automation. Waymo, the Alphabet subsidiary that grew out of the Google Self-Driving Car Project, has been testing a fleet of self-driving Freightliner semitrucks (with human safety drivers) on a route between Dallas and Houston for several months.

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