After a successful pilot program of an automated truck convoy technology, Wilson Logistics has struck a deal with Locomation to equip more than 1,100 tractors with the technology starting in 2022.
In the eight-day pilot program, two Locomation trucks hauling Wilson Logistics trailers and freight were deployed as an Autonomous Relay Convoy (ARC) on a 420-mile-long route from Portland, Oregon, to Nampa, Idaho. ARC allows one driver to pilot a lead truck equipped with technology augmentation while a follower truck operates in tandem through Locomation’s fully autonomous system. Each ARC segment is engineered for maximum yield and utilization by Locomation’s business operations team.
If the ARC concept proves itself, "There will probably be a time when the driver in the rear truck can be off duty, and when the front driver runs out of hours they swap spots," Darrel Wilson, founder and CEO of Wilson Logistics and an HDT Truck Fleet Innovator, told HDT in an interview for the HDT Talks Trucking podcast.
Under the terms of the deal, a minimum of 1,120 Wilson Logistics tractors are to be equipped with Locomation’s ARC technology, with the first units delivered in early 2022. Additionally, the deal amends the commercial agreement between the two companies to extend through 2028.
Working with the Wilson Logistics team, Locomation defined road segments to maximize asset utilization by capitalizing on freight density in each lane, which enables shippers and carriers to increase their use of available capacity, explained Tom Kroswek, head of business development at Locomation. “We then used our proprietary analysis methods to identify opportunities to optimize pricing to maximize yield per mile. Locomation’s unique ability to help our clients improve both yield and utilization is truly the holy grail in trucking.”
Of the 68 original high-value ARC segments that Locomation identified, Wilson has chosen to fill 37 of those lanes.
At full commercialization, Locomation’s ARC technology is expected to produce an estimated 30% reduction in operating cost per mile, including 8% reduction in fuel consumption, and remove over 40 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the air per convoy annually, according to the company.
“We understand the importance of autonomous vehicle technology to the future of Wilson Logistics, and choosing our AV partner has been a deliberate process,” explained Wilson. “In Locomation, we see the most viable path to safe, rapid and broad commercialization. Locomation delivers both the technology and the implementation methods required to enable Wilson Logistics to realize our strategic plans for profitable growth through technology.”
Wilson Logistics began as Wil-Trans in 1990, a trucking company based in Springfield, Missouri. Through the acquisitions of Jim Palmer Trucking in 2014, O&S Trucking in 2016, RJs Transportation in early-2017, Haney Truck Line in late-2017, and Market Transport in 2019, Wilson Logistics was formed.
“This purchase order is just the beginning of a significant leap toward autonomous technology for the entire trucking sector,” said Çetin Meriçli, CEO and Co-Founder of Locomation.
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