Kodiak Robotics is partnering with South Korean conglomerate SK Inc. to bring its Kodiak Driver autonomous trucking software to Asia, the first international move for the Mountain View, California-based startup.

With SK’s help, Kodiak will sell its software in South Korea and China, where competitors TuSimple Holdings (NASDAQ: TSP) and Plus, backed by special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Hennessy Capital V, (NASDAQ: HCIC) have a head start and significant investment from Chinese investors.

“Our technology paired with SK’s deep relationships with Asia’s leading logistics and technology partners offers Kodiak a unique opportunity to expand our global footprint and commercialize the Kodiak Driver across the Asia-Pacific region,” Don Burnette, Kodiak’s co-founder and CEO, said in a press release.

“SK has an impressive list of companies that enables and fast tracks our Asian expansion,” Burnette said.

Partnership to accelerate commercialization

Kodiak declined to discuss whether SK is investing financially in the deeply experienced but relative latecomer to autonomous trucking. SK operates in energy and chemicals, semiconductor and materials, logistics and services, and bio and pharmaceuticals among its 120 companies.

“Our partnership with Kodiak will help accelerate the commercialization of self-driving trucks in Asia,” said Jungho Shin, SK Inc. executive vice president. “Kodiak’s industry-leading technology and SK’s unrivaled reach in Korea and across Asia make this a natural partnership.”

SK will work with Kodiak to sell and distribute Kodiak’s self-driving technology. In addition, the companies will work together to provide fleet management services for customers in Asia’s $1.5 trillion freight market, beginning with China and Korea.

We look forward to working with Kodiak to make autonomous trucking a reality around the globe,” Shin said.

SK’s network of companies has deep roots in numerous industries critical to the future of logistics, from trucking telematics to shipping to semiconductors. 

Kodiak will seek to use SK’s products, components and technology for its autonomous system, including artificial intelligence microprocessors and advanced emergency braking systems.

Related articles:

Can Kodiak Robotics compete with the big boys of autonomous trucking?

Kodiak Robotics hits milestone in driverless trucking

Kodiak Robotics releases safety report on self-driving technology

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.