Contrary to some published reports, autonomous platooning developer Locomation is not shutting its doors, according to CEO and Co-founder Çetin Meriçli.
“We are not shutting down,” Meriçli told HDT in an email. “In fact, we continue to regularly do 200-mile platooning runs with our human-guided autonomy. We did reduce most of our non-engineering headcount in the face of economic headwinds.”
On Feb. 23, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a news story, “Pittsburgh Driverless Truck Startup Locomation to Close.”
An employee who asked not to be identified told the paper that most of the estimated 80 employees would be out of work by Friday, citing an inability to raise additional investment capital.
"Unfortunately, we had an employee give an unauthorized and inaccurate quote, and despite providing further information, the original story ran anyway," Meriçli said.
Locomation's Autonomous Relay Convoy 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.
Wilson Logistics, PGT Trucking, and Stevens Trucking have all been working with Locomation on real-world testing and development of its concept.
Just two weeks ago, Locomation posted a video to its YouTube channel demonstrating how the Autonomous Relay Convoy successfully drove nearly 200 miles roundtrip from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Erie, Pennsylvania, using only one active driver in the leader truck and a safety driver in the follower truck.
A 2021 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.
Locomation’s Çetin Meriçli talked to HDT’s Jim Park in this April 2021 episode of the HDT Talks Trucking podcast.
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