Texas is about to see more and more self-driving trucks after IKEA has partnered with robotics company Kodiak to transport their products according to a Singularity Hub article. They say,

“Thanks to its mild climate, expansive highway network, and lax regulations, Texas has become the country’s proving ground for driverless trucks. From cargo to produce, goods have been traveling the state’s highways partially driver-free (the trucks aim to use autonomous mode on highways, but safety drivers take over to navigate city streets) for a couple of years already. Now there’s another type of cargo traveling through Texas via autonomous trucks: furniture. This week Kodiak Robotics announced a partnership to transport IKEA products using a heavy-duty self-driving truck.

Kodiak has been moving furniture and other IKEA goods since August, but the companies carried out a testing period before making the agreement public. The route runs from an IKEA distribution center in Baytown, east of Houstin, to a store in Frisco, 290 miles away just north of Dallas. It’s mostly a straight shot on highway 45.”

The self-driving trucks, despite their name, still have professional truck drivers behind the wheel according to a Local Profile article.

“While autonomous trucks drive themselves, as their name suggests, they still have professional truck drivers behind the wheel. According to the California-based company, self-driving technology contributes to increasing safety on the road while providing better working conditions to drivers on longer distances at the same time. 

“IKEA and Kodiak share a commitment to putting safety first,” said Don Burnette, founder and CEO of Kodiak Robotics. “Adopting autonomous trucking technology can improve drivers’ quality of life by focusing on the local driving jobs most prefer to do. We look forward to working with the IKEA carrier partners to bring these benefits to the IKEA supply chain.”

Kodiak hopes that the pilot with IKEA will develop into a deeper long-term relationship with IKEA and help them expand their delivery routes.