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Embark co-founders Alex Rodrigues, left, and Brandon Moak with their fleet of autonomous semi-trucks at the startup's operations center in Ontario, California. Embark Trucks

What makes a couple of brash 22-year-old entrepreneurs think they can take on Waymo, the clear leader in self-driving vehicle technology, when it comes to putting autonomous trucks on the road? 

“We’re able to move really fast,” Embark cofounder and CEO Alex Rodrigues told Forbes aboard the cab of a sensor-laden Peterbilt semi as it barreled down the I-10 on a sunny morning, hauling a commercial load from Ontario, California, to Phoenix. (As required by law a safety driver’s hands are on the wheel, but the big rig is driving itself down the busy highway.)

“Waymo may have the 'conglomerate advantage’ of build once, use many times,” he said. The Alphabet Inc. unit’s robot truck program utilizes the same tech that’s in its self-driving minivans, and it’s looking to deploy it elsewhere. “We think in this period of time where the goal is to deliver a working product, and all we’re trying to do is deliver a single vehicle to market first, we have a huge advantage because we’re able to move in such a focused way.”

Silicon Valley VC firm Sequoia Capital agrees and just led a $30 million Series B round for the San Francisco-based company, boosting total funding to $47 million for Sport Girls Foino Red Cross Body Side Bag Bag Bag Women 2 Messenger Pack Fashion Travel Casual for Shoulder Satchel Ox8rT6O0qw two years after it was founded by Rodrigues and Brandon Moak, its CTO. The funds will help Embark’s fleet expand to 100 trucks from five, load them up with Velodyne lidar sensors, cameras, radar and computing system and compete for software talent.

Early this year the company completed the first coast-to-coast test run by a self-driving truck, traveling from suburban Los Angeles to Jacksonville, Florida. Embark’s autonomous Peterbilts are also generating revenue hauling loads daily between Ontario and Phoenix for shippers including appliance giant Electrolux.


Alan Ohnsman covers technology-driven changes reshaping transportation. Follow him on Twitter. Have tips to share with Forbes anonymously? Click Submarine Sea Sea Yellow Tote Yellow Submarine of Holes Bag here.

I write about technology-driven changes that are reshaping transportation and cities from Los Angeles, the U.S. capital of cars and congestion. I've covered global automakers, advanced vehicle tech and environmental policy for two decades, including 15 years with Bloomberg N...

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