On average, a truck using Locomation’s Autonomous Relay Convoy system has a GHG footprint approximately 22% lower than a traditional truck and 18% lower than a truck using idle reduction or cooperative adaptive cruise control. - Photo: Locomation

On average, a truck using Locomation’s Autonomous Relay Convoy system has a GHG footprint approximately 22% lower than a traditional truck and 18% lower than a truck using idle reduction or cooperative adaptive cruise control.

Photo: Locomation

Locomation said an independent evaluation found its Autonomous Relay Convoy system can dramatically reduce the greenhouse gas footprint, fuel consumption, and operating costs of transporting goods by truck.

Locomation’s ARC system consists of two-truck convoys that are electronically tethered. Its Human-Guided Autonomy solution enables one driver to operate the lead truck while a second driver rests in the follower truck, which is operating autonomously. Periodically, the trucks swap places to allow each driver to take turns leading and resting in compliance with federal hours of service regulations. This enables carriers to safely operate two trucks for 20-22 hours per day, delivering double the cargo, faster, and twice the distance. 

The evaluation by Boundless Impact Research & Analytics concluded that compared to traditional Class 8 trucks, trucks equipped with Locomation’s technology would:

  • reduce the GHG footprint of freight transportation by 22%;
  • cut operating costs 19%;
  • decrease fuel consumption 21%;
  • lower photochemical ozone formation by 22%; and
  • reduce the GHG abatement cost, or dollars per ton of avoided greenhouse gas emissions, below any of the alternatives considered.

These conclusions are based on the ARC system’s ability to reduce truck idling by up to 90% and increase fuel efficiency by 8% on average. The savings for idling are compared to a truck idling without an auxiliary power unit. “The Boundless report found that Locomation's solution blew idle reduction technologies out of the water,” Locomation spokesman Sean Rushton told HDT.

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Other autonomous truck companies can make the same claim to reduce idling, he explained, if they have a system to do the planning to optimize the shipments.

For instance, he cited one autonomous-truck company that has been quoted as saying they expect the equipment to be utilized 16 hours per day.

"In their scenario, compared to idling 13 hours per day, their trucks would idle 8 hours per day, a 21% improvement. Our improvement is a 46% improvement, a 2-times improvement. All autonomy providers can say they are eliminating emissions by utilizing the equipment more, but except for Locomation, they don’t have an approach on how to do it.”

In addition, he said, the Locomation technology enjoys fuel savings from platooning itself, which has been found to improve the air flow around the two-truck unit for better aerodynamics.

More About the Autonomous Platooning Study

The environmental impact evaluation used a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method that assessed the Scope 1, 2, and 3 GHG emissions of Locomation’s ARC technology. LCAs are recognized as more rigorous than other reporting methods, according to the company.

Boundless researched and modeled the material, energy, and performance characteristics for Locomation’s ARC system based on detailed information provided by Locomation that described the material components and energy consumption impacts, and labor, and cost implications. At the core of the methodology is an LCA model for the transportation of goods by a long-haul Class 8 truck carrying 1 tonne of goods for 1 kilometer (tkm) on a highway.

Boundless awarded Locomation its highest possible score for positive environmental impact, a 10 out of 10 on per-unit impact. 

“Locomation’s autonomous trucking system would offer a significant environmental improvement over other common fuel reduction technologies such as cooperative adaptive cruise control and idle-reduction technology,” said Boundless Director of Research Bret Strogen.

Locomation plans to routinely engage in commercial operations at scale in the United States with its ARC system starting in late 2022 with Wilson Logistics and following with PGT Trucking in 2023. 

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