Electrolux, teaming with Ryder and tech company Embark, recently tested a self-driving 18-wheeler that rolled 2,400 miles delivering refrigerators with minimal interference from a human supervisor.
The Charlotte Business Journal reports:
Josh Benton, vice president of Electrolux North America supply chain, says the idea is to become more efficient as the company travels more than 100 million miles each year in North America to ship appliances…
…“This pilot is an example of how we are focused on identifying innovative, digital solutions as we adapt to market changes in an efficient way,” Benton adds.
Electrolux says it will continue with the tests of driverless trucks in North America in 2018. There was no immediate word about when or if the company will start using autonomous vehicles on regular runs.
The experiment by the appliance maker and its partners is just one of a number of such tests for self-driving big rigs. And self-driving trucks are something we all may need to get used to sooner rather than later, the New York Times reports:
This year, companies and investors are on pace to put just over $1 billion into self-driving and other trucking technologies, 10 times the level of three years ago, according to CB Insights, which tracks the venture capital industry.
Tesla is widely expected this week to showcase an electric truck that will have some self-driving capabilities. And Embark, a Silicon Valley start-up, is set to announce on Monday that it has been testing its self-driving technology as part of a three-way partnership with the truck-leasing company Ryder and the appliance giant Electrolux.
“We are trying to get self-driving technology out on the road as fast as possible,” said Alex Rodrigues, Embark’s chief executive. “Trucking needs self-driving and self-driving needs trucking.”
Unlike autonomous cars, which face questions about navigating chaotic urban streets, trucks spend a lot of time heading straight on desolate highways. And while the advent of the self-driving car will rest on the decisions of individual consumers, logistics companies are unemotional operators that will upgrade their fleets the moment it makes financial sense.
Hardy Brake & Electric has been in the business of servicing heavy duty truck parts since the 1940s.