Embark, a maker of autonomous technology for the trucking industry, has launched the Embark Universal Interface (EUI), a set of standardized self-driving components and the flexible interfaces necessary for major truck OEMs to more easily and robustly integrate Embark’s autonomous technology onto their vehicle platforms.
The company says their EUI program sets them apart as the first autonomous developer to pursue integration with all four major US OEMs. By focusing on the intersection of four platform specifications, instead of designing to one OEM platform, Embark says it is building the industry’s first universal system that is intentionally designed to integrate into any platform. Embark has designed its system from the beginning to work across platforms, a decision that has required a large upfront investment and attention to cross-platform trade-offs.
The industry has seen a number of early stage, non-exclusive partnerships announced between ADS developers and OEMs in the last year. Embark made a decision in early 2020 to pursue a different approach to OEM integration, informed by Embark’s exclusive focus on the trucking industry since its founding in 2016. Trucking OEMs have a tradition of offering trucks with key components sourced from multiple suppliers, including engines, transmissions, and braking systems, in response to carrier demand. By developing a strong technology platform that can be rapidly integrated on all major OEM trucks, Embark says they can provide OEMs with autonomous technology that is responsive to their carrier customers’ needs.
The EUI achieves its universality through a two-part design. Part one consists of a standardized components package — sensors and compute system — which have been determined through thousands of hours of design, testing, and analysis. Between these standardized components and the truck is part two of the EUI design, a set of physical, electrical, and software interfaces that enable the standardized components package to connect to and communicate with any OEM platform’s steering, braking, throttle, telematics, power, chassis, and HVAC.
At the center of the interface package is the Embark Gateway, an automotive-grade ECU developed by Embark to enable API communication between Embark’s technology and any OEM platform.
Embark’s long-term vision is for OEMs to integrate Embark’s technology with their truck platforms, which the OEMs will then sell with the maintenance and warranty support carriers demand. Embark supports this model and undertook the EUI effort to accelerate this process. The benefits of the program for Embark and the freight ecosystem manifest themselves in both the short-term and long-term.
In the long run, the EUI program will generate novel learnings around standardized sensor placement, vehicle communication protocols, telematics standardization, power management, and many other areas. The learnings from the EUI effort will increase the efficiency, robustness, and safety of future commercial integration programs between Embark and OEMs.