Just days after Amazon announced its autonomous delivery robot Scout, a Reddit user has reportedly seen an Amazon trailer being transported via an Embark autonomous truck, according to CNBC late last week.
Citing the Reddit post and photographs taken by a user, the publication said Amazon is now apparently testing the autonomous trucks to deliver cargo. Embark is able to integrate autonomous vehicle operation technology into Peterbilt semi-trucks, reports explained, and typically tests vehicles with a human driver on board.
Neither Embark nor Amazon commented on the news when asked by CNBC. However, the publication noted that a driver shortage has introduced new pressures into the shipping and logistics industry that could accelerate corporates’ interest in autonomous ground fleet.
“Embark moves freight for a number of major companies on the I-10. However, we cannot discuss any company specifically, as our relationships are confidential,” said Embark CEO Alex Rodrigues, alluding to the highway on which the Embark truck and Amazon-labeled cargo were spotted.
“We are always innovating, and working with innovative companies to improve the customer experience and safety of our team,” an Amazon spokesperson added. “We think successful over-the-road autonomy will create safer roadways and a better work environment for drivers on long-haul runs.”
Last month, a blog post from Amazon introduced Amazon Scout, a robot designed to transport packages to the door.
When it comes to over-the-road freight, Uber Freight is another company testing autonomous driving technology. Last year, reports said the company began testing autonomous trucks for long-haul transport via highway, with a human driver taking over for the last leg of the trip.
The initiative put Uber Freight in direct competition with companies like Embark, reports at the time said.
At the beginning of the year, Germany-based car manufacturer Daimler announced plans to invest $573 million into the development of autonomous trucking technology in hopes of putting one of the vehicles on the road this year.