To test driverless deliveries from its warehouses, Ikea has partnered with Kodiak Robotics, a company working on self-driving technology for long-haul trucking. Every day since August of this year, an autonomous heavy-duty Kodiak truck has delivered furniture from an Ikea distribution center near Houston to a retail store near Dallas. While a backup driver is in charge of picking up the loaded trailer and supervising the delivery, the truck drives autonomously over long stretches of the highway during its 300-mile one-way journey.
With this collaboration, Ikea hopes to gain a better understanding of how autonomous deliveries can make long-distance trips safer and potentially lead to better working conditions for truck drivers. While Kodiak’s trucks are not electric, a previous study by UC San Diego (PDF) using another company’s vehicles found that autonomous trucks are around 10% more efficient than their traditional counterparts. According to Forbes, the two companies agreed to a three-month pilot program, but if everything goes well, they may sign a multi-year agreement that would cover a number of Ikea stores and warehouses.
Over the last few months, the Swedish home furniture brand has also embraced other types of technological advances. In June, it released a new AI-powered app that can scan rooms using LIDAR and create 3D replicas of Ikea furniture. It also made EV owners feel more welcome by agreeing to install Electrify America’s fast chargers in over 25 of its US stores.