Texas, USA, plans to open a 'smart cargo corridor' for self-driving cargo trucks by the end of 24

In collaboration with autonomous driving infrastructure company Cabnew, a pilot operation is planned on some sections of SH 130 north of Austin.

The global self-driving cargo truck market is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 32% until 17.5, reaching $53 billion.

The US state of Texas plans to open the 'Smart Freight Corridor', the first highway for self-driving cargo trucks in the US, within this year. According to local Texas media outlet KXAN, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) signed a $9 million collaboration contract with self-driving infrastructure solution company Cavnue in September last year, and launched the first self-driving cargo in the United States in November. Officially announced plans to create a ‘smart freight corridor’, a smart road for trucks. This project is a 140-mile (130㎞) section of Texas State Highway 130 (hereinafter 'SH 21') from Georgetown to Del Valle that passes through the Austin metropolitan area. Road situation data, traffic flow, accidents, and weather information collected through edge devices such as sensors and cameras installed at intervals of every 33.8 feet (650 m) are shared in real time with individual self-driving cargo vehicles and traffic control authorities. It is expected that it will be able to enhance the driving safety of autonomous vehicles and general vehicles.

<Planned section of ‘Smart Freight Corridor’ in Texas, USA>

[Source: Cavnue]


<Scheme diagram of ‘Smart Freight Corridor’ in Texas, USA>

[Source: Cavnue, KXAN]

America's first self-driving cargo truck road, why Texas?

In fact, the reason why smart roads for self-driving cargo trucks are opening in Texas first than in any other state is not unrelated to the fact that the largest amount of cargo passes through Texas in the United States. In fact, according to the 2022 cargo volume data by state released by the U.S. Federal Transit Administration, approximately 20% of freight traffic across the U.S. passes through Texas, which boasts an unrivaled scale in the U.S. in both size and value. In addition, as friendshoring and nearshoring to stabilize the supply chain are no longer an option but a necessity for U.S. companies starting with the coronavirus pandemic, Texas serves as a bridge in logistics between Mexico and the United States. It is solidifying its position as a center of cargo transportation by faithfully carrying out its duties.

<Comparison of cargo volume by U.S. state>

(Unit: thousand tons)

[Source: US Department of Transportation]


Active policy support at the state level is also a big help in making Texas a leader in the autonomous driving market. After the Federal Department of Transportation announced the 'Federal Automated Vehicles Policy', a guideline for the development of autonomous vehicles, in September 2016, each U.S. state also developed its own autonomous vehicles. The state of Texas also enacted a bill (Senate Bill 9) the following year to allow autonomous vehicles to operate on Texas roads and highways regardless of the physical presence of a human driver under certain circumstances. By passing it, it laid the foundation for the development of the autonomous driving industry.

<Texas autonomous vehicle and connected vehicle laws and major contents>

[Source: Texas Department of Transportation]

Meanwhile, although legislation related to autonomous vehicles has been established in most states in the United States, the types of autonomous driving permitted on the road differ by state. Texas has been evaluated by global media company Reuters as 'one of the most lenient states for autonomous vehicle testing and related technology deployment with minimal rules and oversight' and allows self-driving companies to conduct test runs without separate approval from the state government. With flexible regulations and support for research and development, it is becoming an outpost for technological innovation for many self-driving companies.


<Comparison of autonomous vehicle regulations by U.S. state>

[Source: Reuters 2022.6.]

Texas emerges as a ‘test bed’ for global autonomous driving companies

In the global self-driving market, California is considered the most innovative technology testbed for many self-driving car companies at home and abroad, but Texas is also no stranger to many self-driving car companies. Currently, at least 15 self-driving car companies are conducting business in Texas, and prior to the announcement of plans to create a dedicated road for self-driving cargo trucks, many self-driving technology companies have also chosen Texas as the first testbed for implementing their new technology. This proves.

For example, General Motors' robotaxi company Cruise operated 150 self-driving robotaxis in Austin before completely suspending operations last October due to safety concerns, and its main competitor, Google ) Waymo, owned by parent company Alphabet, also began test driving in Austin last year and launched a self-driving robotaxi service for its employees in early March of this year, and plans to expand the service to the general public within this year. plan. In addition, Kodiak Robotics, an autonomous cargo truck startup that began test operations in Texas in 3, is used by companies such as global furniture chain IKEA and America's largest meat processing company Tyson Foods in Texas and nearby regions. Aurora Innovation, another self-driving technology company that is in charge of trucking and invested by Amazon, began testing in Texas last year and plans to launch a full-fledged self-driving, unmanned trucking system on the section between Dallas and Houston within this year. We plan to commercialize it. In addition, Walmart, the world's largest retail distribution company, and Kroger, a large grocery company, are working to automate and increase efficiency in middle mile delivery from customer fulfillment centers and stores in Texas. Gatik's self-driving trucks are in operation, and TuSimple, which attracted investment from UPS, a leading U.S. logistics company, has also conducted a test run of self-driving cargo trucks in Texas.

Prospects and Implications


In addition to rising wages and driver shortages that have intensified across the United States since the coronavirus pandemic, self-driving cargo has become a new trend for strengthening competitiveness in the increasingly competitive e-commerce market. Trucks are emerging as a solution to the manpower shortage in the U.S. logistics industry and as a solution for realizing logistics innovation.


According to market research firm Precedence Research, the global autonomous truck market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 2022% from $10 billion in 7000 to reach $17.5 billion in 2032. Frost & Sullivan, another market research firm, predicted that by 53, level 6000* autonomous trucks will account for about 2030% of general cargo transportation in the United States, saving $4 billion in annual freight costs.

    Note*: A stage where the autonomous driving system can respond to various unexpected situations without a driver in a specific environment (zone, weather, etc.)


<Global autonomous truck market size forecast>

[Source: Precedence Research]

In this situation, the state of Texas is opening its arms wide to attract global autonomous driving companies by creating a favorable regulatory environment for autonomous driving technology and supporting technology research and development through public-private cooperation. In particular, in the case of the self-driving cargo truck industry, it appears to be more active in revitalizing technology by pursuing demonstration projects such as the aforementioned 'Smart Highway' based on geopolitical advantages. Accordingly, Korean companies wishing to enter the United States can respond to the new demand for self-driving cargo trucks, which are expected to grow in earnest, through constant monitoring of the self-driving cargo truck technology industry and policy support in the United States and Texas and continuous networking with local companies. You will have to prepare for it.

Source: Compilation of data from Cavnue, KXAN, US Department of Transportation, Texas Department of Transportation, Bloomberg, Reuters, Precedence Research, Texas Tribune, KOTRA Dallas Trade Center

Source: KOTRA