Loadsmith orders 800 Kodiak self-driving trucks

  • July 10, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

Colorado-based third-party logistics company Loadsmith has ordered 800 Kodiak self-driving lorries to launch what it claims is the world’s first trucking company dedicated to autonomous freight transportation.

Loadsmith is a third-party capacity-as-a-service (CaaS) logistics platform for shippers and carriers. It will equip 800 trucks with California-based Kodiak’s self-driving technology, the Kodiak Driver.

The Kodiak-equipped autonomous trucks will serve as the foundation for the recently established Loadsmith Freight Network (LFN), a freight transportation company built specifically for self-driving trucks. Kodiak will begin delivering the Driver-powered self-driving trucks in the second half of 2025.

The trucks will transport goods autonomously on the interstate portions of highway routes for the long-haul portions of deliveries, while human-driven trucks, booked on Loadsmith’s platform, will do local pickups and deliveries. Long-haul trucks and local drivers will rendezvous at hubs along and within the LFN.

“Loadsmith is the first trucking company built specifically for autonomous trucks, and we are proud that they selected Kodiak as the backbone of their operations,” said Don Burnette, CEO of Kodiak Robotics. “Loadsmith’s founder Brett Suma is one of trucking’s true visionaries, and now he is using his deep and unique experience to rethink logistics for the autonomous era.”

Suma added: “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. 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.”

Loadsmith’s proprietary logistics platform will deploy 6000 trailers on the LFN to increase the use of the Kodiak-powered trucks on the network. By pairing self-driving trucks and local manual trucks on the same network, Loadsmith can rapidly scale autonomous deliveries and convert significant amounts of freight volume from traditional trucking methods to a more flexible and on-demand service.

This model will let shippers seamlessly 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 in the USA.

As part of the agreement, Loadsmith has joined the Kodiak partner deployment programme, which helps shippers and carriers establish autonomous freight operations and seamlessly integrate the Kodiak Driver into their fleets.

Kodiak Robotics was founded in 2018 to develop autonomous technology for freight. The company is developing a technology stack purpose-built for long-haul trucks, making the freight industry safer and more efficient. The modular hardware approach integrates sensors into a streamlined sensor-pod structure that optimises for perception, scalability and maintainability. The company delivers freight daily for its customers across the south of the USA, operating autonomously on the highway portions of the routes. Kodiak also leverages its commercial self-driving software to develop, test and deploy autonomous capabilities for the US Department of Defense.

Founded in 2019, Loadsmith is a third-party logistics platform headquartered in Denver, Colorado, with locations in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Phoenix, Arizona.