Chet Richardson, former Vice President of Yellow Transportation’s less than truckload (LTL) carrier YRC Freight (CCJ Top 250, No. 5), is joining autonomous truck startup Kodiak Robotics as its Head of Freight Operations and Network.
Richardson is the latest traditional trucking player to jump into the self-driving space, joining the likes of former acting FMCSA directors Jim Mullen (TuSimple) and Wiley Deck (Plus).
Richardson will be responsible for building Kodiak’s network of partners and supporting commercial customers as they deploy the Kodiak Driver at scale and “will work closely with customers to ensure a deep understanding of their businesses, so we can operate together seamlessly at scale,” said Don Burnette, Founder and CEO, Kodiak Robotics. “At the same time, he will focus on expanding Kodiak’s coast-to-coast operations, which is vital as we work toward commercialization.
Richardson will also lead locating, designing and managing future Kodiak autonomous trucking facilities and responsible for building out the services and infrastructure that will enable Kodiak to support its partners’ freight operations.
Kodiak, in September, announced its fourth-generation autonomous truck that will feature Luminar’s Iris LiDAR, ZF Full Range Radar, Hesai 360-degree scanning LiDARs for side- and rear-view detection, Cummins X15 Series engines, Bridgestone smart-sensing tire technology and the NVIDIA Drive platform.
The company is already hauling freight for a range of industry partners including fleets, Fortune 100 companies and digital freight brokers on routes between Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, San Antonio, Austin, and Oklahoma City.
CEVA Logistics delivered its first load with Kodiak in November 2021 and is moving goods weekly on the 200 mile freight lane between Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin, Texas. The companies expanded the partnership in February with a new route between Dallas-Fort Worth and Oklahoma City on the Interstate 35 corridor – a route that runs 200 miles between a CEVA facility in Dallas and the delivery point in Oklahoma City. On both routes, a Kodiak autonomous tractor pulls a CEVA trailer filled with consumer products.
“Kodiak’s team of industry experts is ushering in the future of logistics with innovative self-driving technology that will improve road safety, increase serviceability, reduce fuel costs and more,” said Richardson. “Over my 30 year career, I’ve seen multiple transformations in the global logistics industry. I believe the next great advancement will be self-driving trucks. “
During his three years with YRC Freight, Richardson led a team of more than 200 management personnel and 3,900 drivers, while simultaneously managing 34 relay offices, central dispatch operations and more than 7,500 trucks and 25,000 trailers. He led the development and implementation of YRC Freight’s distribution center network in 2017 and championed YRC Freight’s investments in new technologies that enabled improved network planning and execution.
Prior to YRC Freight, Richardson spent 26 years at Con-way Freight, which was acquired by XPO Logistics in 2015. While at Con-way Freight, he most recently held the position of Vice President of Linehaul, where he was responsible for large account integration, truckload carrier relations, and real estate management and oversaw a $ 1.3 billion annual budget and more than 8,000 dispatches per day.
Richardson most recently held the position of President at AFS Logistics, where he was responsible for technology and policy, improving the quality of customer and partner experiences, identifying business and financial goals and streamlining business operations. Much of his efforts focused on efficient and effective operations between carriers and customers, including leading technology initiatives that would enable AFS to meet customers’ demands despite supply chain disruptions. Prior to that he served as Vice President of Operations at Farnsworth Logistics for just more than a year.
Kodiak recently raised $ 125 million, which it intends to use on adding staff, expanding autonomous service capabilities from coast-to-coast and adding at least 15 new trucks to their fleet for a total of at least 25 autonomous vehicles.