The third-party logistics and transportation provider Loadsmith on Thursday ordered 800 autonomous vehicle systems from the self-driving truck technology vendor Kodiak Robotics Inc., and plans to use them for the highway segments of long-haul freight routes.
Denver-based Loadsmith, which calls itself a capacity-as-a-service (CaaS) logistics platform for shippers and carriers, will equip 800 trucks with Kodiak's “Kodiak Driver” self-driving technology, beginning in the second half of 2025.
Loadsmith plans to use the autonomous trucks for the interstate portions of highway routes, handing off their loads to human drivers at pre-set hubs to do local pickups and deliveries. According to Loadsmith, pairing autonomous long-haul trucks with local drivers will enable shippers to move freight more efficiently, reliably, and safely.
The model will also allow shippers to leverage autonomous trucks for the long-haul lanes that are less desirable to many drivers. This helps reimagine the driver's job by creating attractive local driving opportunities and simultaneously relieving the driver shortage that continues to plague American supply chains, Loadsmith said.
Shippers will book those loads on Loadsmith's platform, and then the freight will move along the company’s Loadsmith Freight Network (LFN). Along that nationwide network, Loadsmith will strategically deploy 6,000 pre-loaded drop trailers to minimize loading and wait times while maximizing driver utilization and efficiency.
"Loadsmith's partnership with Kodiak is founded on the belief that freight transportation is preparing to undergo a profound technological transformation, with autonomous middle-mile trucking leading the way," Brett Suma, founder & CEO of Loadsmith, said in a release. "Loadsmith's expertise in network design and freight execution combined with Kodiak's best-in-class autonomous trucking technology demonstrates a new model for how two companies can collaborate to usher in a new era of transportation."
As part of the agreement, Loadsmith has joined the Kodiak Partner Deployment Program, which helps shippers and carriers establish autonomous freight operations and seamlessly integrate the Kodiak Driver into their fleets. Kodiak has recently announced partnerships with C.R. England and Tyson, IKEA, Werner, and Forward.