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Autonomous trucking technology provider Locomation and Wilson Logistics, a Springfield, Missouri-based trucking and transportation logistics company, announced a multi-year partnership.
Locomation will install its Autonomous Relay Convoy (ARC) technology in Wilson Logistics vehicles. The agreement will come into effect this spring.
Locomation said in a March 3 release that the three-year pilot program will use an “autonomous human-guided convoy,” in which convoys of two trucks, using a driver in the lead truck, will control the following vehicle, using the company’s fully autonomous system. , aftermarket technology.
– Location (@LocomationAI) December 10, 2019
The national pilot project will begin with 62 two-truck convoys along 11 predetermined routes on which Wilson operates.
“Our work with Locomation will mark a significant milestone for Wilson Logistics,” Wilson CEO Darrel Wilson told Transport Topics. “Not only will we improve our asset utilization and network efficiency, but we will make great strides in reducing our energy costs while improving our security.”
Wilson emphasized that during the pilot, even if the follower vehicle is operating in autonomous mode, a driver will be in that vehicle at all times.
“This is a 36-month pilot project and initially everyone will be in service,” Wilson said. “These drivers will be on duty at least initially, at least until it is proven that it is viable to leave them furloughed.”
Over the past few months, company officials have reviewed Wilson’s routes and schedules, determining where they think autonomous technology would work best and under the safest conditions.
“We analyzed and identified the freight corridors where the technology worked,” Cetin Mericli, co-founder and CEO of Locomation, told TT. “We think there will be a huge improvement in safety.”
The trucks will be linked by wireless technology and will not exceed the company’s maximum speed of 62 mph. In autonomous platooning mode, trucks will be separated by at least 25 feet.
“We operate in 48 states and Canada. For this pilot, we will operate primarily in the Western United States,” Wilson said.
Locomation said that when the platform is fully utilized, it will reduce operating costs by up to 33% per mile, in part due to an 8% improvement in fuel expenses due to the improved efficiency.
Wilson operates 1,100 powertrains and has 1,400 drivers. CEO Wilson told TT that while the company is adding platooning technology to more of its trucks, there are no plans to reduce the number of its drivers. He believes this will increase driver salaries as the company intends to reinvest some of the savings from greater operating efficiencies and increase salaries.
Host Seth Clevenger talks with Mike Perkins and Derrick Loo, test drivers at Peloton Technology, one of the companies at the forefront of developing truck platooning systems. Listen to a clip above and get the full program by going to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.
“We expect driver wages to increase with this model,” Wilson said. “We are very happy to offer this safety, efficiency, comfort and remuneration to our drivers. In our opinion, this will be top-notch work.
Locomation officials said the autonomous technology installed in Wilson’s fleet is compatible with many of the newest truck models on the road.
The company has ambitious plans for this program, as it plans to eventually expand to more than 2,000 autonomous trucks operating on more than 68 routes. As is the case with its partnership with Wilson Logistics, these highways and roads will need to be reviewed by Locomation and its partner trucking companies to ensure they are safe for autonomous vehicle operation.
“We built our technology stack and ARC network strategy to leverage the value of long-established trucking routes and systems. Wilson Logistics is a great fit for our first pilot program,” Mericli said.
Locomation, based in Pittsburgh, was founded in 2018 by several former members of the National Robotics Engineering Center at Carnegie Mellon University.
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