September 14, 2021

EmbarkHP 400x275Embark Trucks, which develops self-driving software for the trucking industry, has announced a joint initiative with HP to combine electric and autonomous truck technology to create a more sustainable distribution network. 

The two companies launched an electric truck drayage (short-distance transport) pilot in the Los Angeles area, where local loads are hauled to and from Embark’s highway-adjacent transfer points using BYD 8TT electric trucks operated by human drivers, while the longer middle segment of the haul is completed autonomously by trucks equipped with the Embark Driver software.

The companies said the drayage pilot gives the ability to leverage electric trucks, which currently have a driving range best suited for short-transport operations, in a meaningful way within its supply chain. This complements the efficiencies provided by Embark-equipped autonomous trucks, which are 10% more fuel-efficient than human-operated trucks. Adopting both long-haul autonomous trucks and EV drayage will enable HP to remove up to 50,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other pollutants from its distribution network over the next 10 years, according to preliminary research by Embark.

The companies said the greater Los Angeles area is a leading emitter of greenhouse gases, and is especially affected by harmful diesel emissions. San Bernardino, home to much of Southern California’s trucking and warehouse infrastructure, had 130 bad air days for ozone pollution in 2020, the companies said. In the South Coast Air Basin, heavy-duty vehicles like trucks contribute 32% of mobile source nitrogen oxide emissions that react in the atmosphere to form ozone and particulate matter. 

The pilot will be working with regional drayage providers like 4 Gen Logistics to help make Southern California cleaner, safer, and healthier. “We’re combining the best of both worlds with this partnership, pairing the middle-mile strengths of autonomous trucks with the sustainability benefits of electric trucks in urban road settings,” said Alex Rodrigues, CEO of Embark. “Autonomous and electric trucks represent a powerful tool for companies like HP to help the trucking industry reduce harmful diesel emissions while continuing to deliver goods to the businesses and consumers who need them.”

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HP is a member of Embark’s Partner Development Program, which Embark launched earlier this year. Since announcing the partnership, the two companies have delivered weekly hauls of hardware between HP’s Los Angeles and Phoenix distribution facilities.

Why this matters

Self-driving trucks makes sense for the middle part of long-haul journeys, where there is less of a chance for distractions or other types of accidents that could happen in urban environments. It makes sense to develop the system in this way, as well as use electric trucks in dense urban cities to reduce the carbon footprint.

Embark said its transfer point model, with short first-mile and last-mile legs in urban environments, offers the perfect opportunity for shippers to utilize electric trucks to eliminate pollution in cities.

“BYD is excited to be part of this creative solution to decrease emissions from freight movement that pollute the air and harm vulnerable communities,” said Vincent Pellecchia, strategic account manager at BYD Motors. “By working with Embark, we’re giving storied companies like HP the tools they need to create sustainable supply chains end-to-end.”

The pilot program is part of Embark’s goal of commercializing autonomous trucks by 2024. The company unveiled its go-to-market strategy in June 2021, and entered into a definitive business combination agreement with Northern Genesis Acquisition Corp to become a publicly traded company on Nasdaq (EMBK). The combination deal is expected to close in the second half of 2021.

For more details on the company and its technology, visit the Embark website here.