Ikea has teamed up with Kodiak Robotics, a company that’s working on self-driving technology for long-haul trucking, to test driverless deliveries from its warehouses. Since August this year, an autonomous heavy-duty Kodiak truck has been delivering furniture from an Ikea distribution center near Houston to a retail store near Dallas every single day. While the truck has a backup driver behind the wheel who’s in charge of picking up the loaded trailer and of overseeing the delivery, the truck runs autonomously over long stretches of highway during its 300-mile, one-way journey.
With this partnership, Ikea is hoping to have a better grasp of how autonomous deliveries can make long-haul trips safer and could lead to better working conditions for truck drivers. While Kodiak’s trucks aren’t electric, it’s worth noting that a previous study by the UC San Diego (PDF) using another company’s vehicles show that autonomous trucks are around 10 percent more efficient than their traditional counterparts. According to Forbes, the two companies agreed to a three-month pilot program, but if it all goes well, they could sign a multi-year deal that would cater to a number of Ikea stores and warehouses.
The Swedish home furniture brand also embraced other types of technological advances over the past few months. In June, it launched a new AI-powered app that can scan rooms using LIDAR so that it can create 3D replicas you can design with Ikea furniture. It also made EV owners feel more welcome by signing a deal to install Electrify America’s fast chargers in more than 25 of its stores in the US.