Today, Embark is proud to announce our $70 million Series C financing. The round was led by Tiger Global, with participation from Sequoia, DCVC, YCombinator, SV Angel, Maven Ventures, OMERS Ventures, and Mubadala Ventures. This round brings our fundraising total to $117 million, accelerating our trajectory to develop the first commercially-viable driverless truck.
This new round comes during a year of rapid growth for Embark. We doubled the size of the team in the last 12 months — including hiring Zeljko Popovic (former perception lead for Tesla Autopilot) — and released the first disengagement report from a self-driving truck company. In addition to expanding our fleet of 13 trucks and team of 70 employees, Embark will use the cash infusion to power new transfer hubs in Los Angeles and Phoenix. These facilities provide a common location for local drivers to deliver freight where we can stage and inspect trailers before our automated trucks drive them across the country.
One of our greatest learnings from spending time with customers over the last two years is that the transition to self-driving trucks involves a lot more than getting a truck to drive safely on its own. Our customers rely on truck drivers to navigate their yards, load freight, and process paperwork — distribution centers aren’t going to change these practices anytime soon. Deploying transfer hubs allows our customers to have trusted local drivers handle pick-up and gives them access to the benefits of self-driving trucks without needing to change the way they do business.
Embark’s initial transfer hub network will operate between Los Angeles and Phoenix, with five Fortune 500 customers signed up to move freight on the network when it opens this fall. Transfer hubs are also a key factor accelerating our path to market. Both of our transfer hubs are strategically located just off the freeway which allows our trucks to operate without needing to drive through challenging driving conditions in urban areas.
Today we’re also releasing a video of our transfer hubs in action — local drivers do pickup and drop-off while Embark trucks operate hub-to-hub, separating long-haul driving from other traditional driver tasks. To begin, a human driver ferries freight from origin to Embark’s transfer hub, located just outside the origin city. The freight is then transferred to an Embark truck by a qualified Hub Technician, who performs docking, pre-trip inspection, and other responsibilities of a long-haul driver. Once cleared for departure by the Hub Technician, the Embark truck leaves the transfer hub, drives onto the interstate, and travels hundreds or thousands of miles under computer control. Once the Embark truck reaches its destination transfer hub, a local driver receives the freight and delivers it to its final destination.
While Embark trucks always have a safety driver and operate a Level 2 system today, our transfer hubs are designed to go beyond a proof-of-concept technology demonstration and solve the hard operational challenges required to deploy Level 4 self-driving trucks — docking, loading, inspections, and paperwork.
Nearly every industry relies on trucks to bring goods to consumers. From cars and clothes to electronics and fresh groceries, trucks move 80% of all freight in the US. At the same time, the US currently experiences a massive shortage of 60,000 truck drivers, as young people choose to reject the time away from home required by the job. Our transfer hub model presents a way to address the driver shortage by creating more of the attractive local driving jobs that the next generation is demanding — one that allows truckers to sleep in their own bed every night, instead of at truck stops across the country.
Although cars have been the most talked about application of self-driving technology, autonomous trucking promises to be as big or bigger over the coming decades. In the US alone, trucking is nearly an $800 billion industry, roughly double the size of the entire global software industry. We truly believe autonomy will be the most impactful change to the trucking industry this century — a transportation product that will cut costs and transit times in half and prevent thousands of fatalities every year caused by distraction and fatigue on US highways.
Embark has evolved tremendously in the last 3 years, but our purpose as a company has remained the same — to deliver goods faster, cheaper, and safer. We strive for a world where consumers pay less for the things they need, where drivers stay closer to the homes they cherish, and where roads are safer for the people we love. Today, that world feels a little bit closer.
Embark is hiring! Come join the team.