As a strategic investor, Pilot Flying J bring a lot of benefits. In addition to financial backing, the company will join Kodiak’s board of directors. We’ll also open an autonomous truckport near Atlanta, Georgia, to progress toward Kodiak’s goal of automating the “middle mile.”
Middle mile automation means hauling loads autonomously over the long distances between the “first mile” and the “last mile”. These points, at either end of a journey, involve complex urban driving, at which human truck drivers excel. The middle mile involves more routine long-distance highway driving.
The Kodiak partnership with Pilot Flying J demonstrates how well this model can serve human drivers, who are the backbone of Pilot Flying J’s customer base. Human truck drivers often have to spend long periods of time away from their families while hauling freight over that middle mile, from coast to coast. Drivers frequently sleeping in the back of their truck cabs, while their families are back home, in another state.
An autonomous middle mile would increase overall freight traffic, meaning even more local jobs for humans driving the first and last mile. Instead of having to haul freight coast-to-coast, spending days or weeks on the road, drivers could haul loads in the home area and spend every night with their families.
To bring this vision to fruition, Kodiak and Pilot Flying J will work together to efficiently hand off loads between Kodiak’s autonomous trucks and human-driven trucks covering the first and last mile.
That’s what makes this partnership, and what it could turn into, so exciting.