Ike Robotics has won contracts to develop autonomous trucks for DHL, Ryder and NFI. The startup has announced the three major logistics operators as its first customers.
The three customers will collectively take delivery of 1,000 autonomous trucks, says Ike on its company blog.
Ike says it will work closely with its customers to customize the trucks to each one’s specific requirements.
On its blog, Ike says: “We are proud to announce our first customers, who have collectively reserved the first 1,000 trucks Ike will power with our automation technology.
“The fleets we are working with are among the largest and most sophisticated in the world.
“The agreements we have signed are an entirely new kind of collaboration for our industry, and will ensure that we build a safe, reliable, commercially valuable product – together.”
Ike says the three companies are “ideal first customers” because they are “early adopters of new technologies and have invested heavily in digital tools, electrification, and automation in many parts of their businesses”.
Ike supplies a hardware-and-software solution for making trucks autonomous, using its expertise in systems engineering, computer vision, and other aspects, while its customers will deal with other things.
Ike says it is creating a business model which enables it to concentrate on being a technology company that helps its customers to get the best out of automation.
Ike’s primary product is a Software as a Service (SaaS) subscription to fleets. Its customers will buy trucks equipped with Ike’s validated automation system from our original equipment manufacturing partners.
Automated trucks will be owned and operated by fleets and “Powered by Ike”.
The company says this is a “unique approach to automation”, but it’s a model its customers are very familiar with. Telematics and other hardware-software products have been sold this way in the trucking industry for many years.
Ike adds that it will also provide its customers with access to a “bundle of support services” to ensure that trucks powered by Ike have high uptime and can be used seamlessly in their networks.
Automated trucks powered by Ike will have new sensors, mechanical equipment, computing, and software that allows them to drive on the highway without a driver.
Human-driven trucks from Ike’s customers’ fleets will move loads to and from the highway, handing off to their automated trucks for the long journey on the interstate (see picture above).
Ike says this approach has the potential to save lives, improve its customers’ operating margins, and keep their drivers closer to home.
Ryder, DHL, NFI, and Ike’s other customers helped validate the business model, says the company.