Embark Trucks, a developer of self-driving software for the trucking industry (earlier post), announced a joint initiative with HP to combine electric and autonomous truck technology and create a more sustainable distribution network. The two companies launched an electric truck drayage pilot in the Los Angeles area, where local loads are hauled to and from Embark’s highway-adjacent transfer points using BYD 8TT electric trucks operated by human drivers, while the longer middle segment of the haul is completed autonomously by trucks equipped with the Embark Driver software.
This EV drayage pilot gives HP the ability to leverage electric trucks—which currently have a driving range best suited for drayage operations—in a meaningful way within its supply chain, seamlessly complementing the efficiencies provided by Embark-equipped autonomous trucks, which are 10% more fuel efficient than human-operated trucks.
Adopting both long-haul autonomous trucks and EV drayage enables HP to remove up to 50,000 tons of carbon dioxide and other pollutants from its distribution network over the next ten years, according to preliminary research by Embark.
The greater Los Angeles area is a leading emitter of greenhouse gases and is especially affected by harmful diesel emissions. San Bernardino, home to much of Southern California’s trucking and warehouse infrastructure, had 130 bad air days for ozone pollution in 2020. In the South Coast Air Basin, heavy duty vehicles such as trucks contribute 32% of mobile source nitrogen oxide emissions that react in the atmosphere to form ozone and particulate matter. These pollutants are linked to respiratory and cardiovascular problems and other adverse health impacts that lead to serious medical conditions and premature deaths.
Since May 2021, warehouses in the Inland Empire are subject to new air quality regulations meant to address these health concerns. Leveraging sustainable freight technologies such as EVs and AVs is a key way to reduce emissions and ensure compliance with these rules.
HP joined Embark’s Partner Development Program in May 2021, with the intent of piloting a program for autonomous trucks as an element in achieving its broader carbon footprint and sustainability goals. Embark-equipped trucks offer better fuel economy, less idling, and the creation of EV drayage opportunities with Embark’s highway-adjacent transfer points. Since announcing the partnership, Embark and HP have delivered regular weekly hauls of hardware between HP’s Los Angeles and Phoenix distribution facilities.
Embark’s transfer point model, with its short first-mile and last-mile legs in urban environments, offers the perfect opportunity for shippers such as HP to utilize BYD’s electric trucks, eliminating smog, diesel-emitted NO2, and CO2 emissions in cities.
The EV drayage pilot marks another key milestone for Embark as the company works toward its timeline of commercializing autonomous trucks by 2024.