Embark Trucks, a robotics company developing autonomous systems for long-haul trucks, announced late last week that it is shutting down. Seventy percent of the company has already been laid off. The remaining 30% has been charged with helping the company wind down day-to-day operations.
Embark Trucks CEO Alex Rodrigues shared the news in a Medium blog post, noting that the company was “unable to identify a path forward for the business in the its current form.”
Embark was founded in 2016 and headquartered in San Francisco. It was developing software systems designed to be retrofitted onto long-haul trucks developed by major automotive manufacturers. Its products included the Embark Driver, the Embark Universal Interface, and the Embark Guardian.
Late last year, the company announced that it had partnered with Knight-Swift Transportation Services as part of Embark’s Truck Transfer Program. As part of the program, one of Knight Swift’s drivers was placed behind the wheel of an Embark-powered truck to “collect data regarding system safety and operational performance.”
In August, Robotics 24/7 reported that the company had completed a demo of its emergency vehicle interaction capability with the Texas Department of Public Safety and Travis County Sheriff’s Office.
Last year has not been kind to autonomous vehicle startups
Despite some recent successes, the company has had a rough year, Rodrigues said.
“The last 9 months have been tough for the autonomous trucking industry, and for Embark – the capital markets have turned their backs on pre-revenue companies, just as slipping manufacturer timelines have delayed the prospect of scaled commercial deployment,” he wrote.
Rodriguez said the company tried to keep the business afloat by exploring new markets and by restructuring its long-term plans. It also was searching for a company to acquire it.
“You are an amazing team, and it has been the highlight of my life to get to work with all of you,” Rodrigues wrote. “This is not a reflection on you, but rather the nature of attempting something that has never been done before is that it is risky and even with incredible amounts of hard work, creativity and passion (which this team certainly has in spades!) success is not guaranteed.”
The news comes just a few weeks after Pittsburgh-based Locomation announced significant cuts to its workforce. The company is developing the Autonomous Relay Convoy System, a system that involves human truck drivers and its autonomous linking technology.
About the Author
Cesareo Contreras was associate editor at Robotics 24/7. Prior to working at Peerless Media, he was an award-winning reporter at the Metrowest Daily News and Milford Daily News in Massachusetts. Contreras is a graduate of Framingham State University and has a keen interest in the human side of emerging technologies.
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