The transportation industry has seen an influx of autonomous trucks and vehicles. Companies such as Embark, Daimler, TuSimple and Volvo, may now have to fend off a new competitor. The Pittsburgh Pennsylvania based company, Locomation, has just completed trials of their autonomous relay convoy technology with the asset-based carrier Wilson Logistics. Their unique technology platform combines Al-driven autonomy with driver augmentation in what they call the first combination of its type. Before diving into the results of their first trial, the founders of Locomation have put together a short video detailing the essentials of their technology. Please view at: https://youtu.be/RGJEymZ2dww
It was in March 2020, that Locomation struck a deal with Wilson Logistics to have their technology tested in Wilson’s fleet. The trial runs consisted of two Locomation trucks hauling Wilson Logistics trailers and freight along Interstate 84. This stretch of I-84 between Portland, OR and Nampa, ID were chosen due to the challenging conditions of the freeway, which includes road curvatures, grades, and wind gusts.
The nuts and bolts of Locomation’s technology are found in its autonomous relay convoy (ARC) system. “The company’s ARC system allows one driver to pilot a lead truck while the following truck operates in tandem,” fleetowner.com reports. The follow-truck also has a driver on board but while the ARC controls the vehicle, it gives the driver an opportunity to log off and rest. All said, the two Locomation trucks ran approximately 3400 miles, delivered 14 full truckloads of freight, and operated autonomously about 50% of the time. CEO of Wilson Logistics, Darrel Wilson was pleased with the trial runs stating, “This test pilot was critical for Wilson Logistics because it proved the true commercial viability of Locomation’s ARC technology.” Locomation has stated that at full commercialization of it’s technology could lower operating cost per mile by as much as 30%. This pairs with an 8% reduction in fuel consumption and a removal of 40 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the air per convoy annually. For the autonomous truck industry, this is a big leap from a technological standpoint and we can expect more growth from Locomation as well as its competitors.