Locomation recently tested its automated platooning technology in a project with government and turnpike officials to make a delivery run from Pennsylvania to Michigan.
On Oct. 22, Locomation made a delivery run from Pittsburgh, Pennsylania, through Ohio via the Ohio Turnpike to Detroit, Michigan. Travelling more than 280 miles, the company made a delivery of groceries from the Greater Pittsburgh Community Foodbank to the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Foodbank and the Forgotten Harvest Food Bank in Detroit to help provide needed supplies for those put out of work by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout.
Truck platooning is the linking of two or more trucks in convoy using connectivity technology and automated driving support systems. These vehicles automatically maintain a set, close distance between each other when they are connected.
Locomation is developing a trucking technology platform to combine artificial-intelligence-driven autonomy with driver augmentation. During the demonstration, two platooning tractor-trailers were operated manually on surface streets. While on interstates and turnpikes, the lead truck was driven manually, while the driver of the following tractor-trailer engaged the vehicle’s platooning technology. This technology augments the driver’s capabilities and enables the vehicle to follow the lead vehicle in the platoon automatically. Both vehicles had an operator on board at all times. Locomation calls this kind of technology deployment an Autonomous Relay Convoy (ARC).
The demonstration was a project of the Smart Belt Coalition, made up of 12 organizations, including five transportation agencies and seven research and academic institutions, located throughout Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Its purpose is to foster collaboration in research, testing, policy, standards development, deployments, outreach, and funding pursuits in the area of connected and automated vehicle technology as well as other innovations in the transportation industry.
“In Ohio, we are designing and deploying the transportation system of the 21st century,” said Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. “Safety is our primary concern, and as smart mobility technologies mature, we believe these innovations will make our roads safer. Deployments like this one will help to inform future projects.”
The Ohio Department of Transportation and DriveOhio issued a request for information (RFI) in early March 2020, on behalf of all Smart Belt Coalition members, for companies willing to demonstrate truck platooning and/or automated driving operations through the three partner states on roadways operated by the five SBC agencies (ODOT, OTIC, Michigan Department of Transportation, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission). Through the RFI process, the coalition further engaged Locomation. This deployment is the successful conclusion of this RFI process.
This effort will result in a “lessons learned” document on the steps needed to facilitate a truck platooning and automated driving system operation across jurisdictional boundaries.
“Michigan has been at the forefront of developing mobility technologies of the future, and this demonstration follows others completed here to foster more research focused on safer ways to move freight,” said Michigan Transportation Director Paul C. Ajegba in a release.
"Many amazing things are happening in the automated vehicle space, and truck platooning is an example of that," said Pennyslvania Turnpike Commission CEO Mark Compton. "However, we seek to be strategic about these developments and above all, safe."
This project follows an eight-day pilot in August with Wilson Logistics that transported 14 commercial loads between Portland, Oregon and Nampa, Idaho.