The Ease Logistics automated follower truck will be manned and connected. - Photo: Ease Logistics

The Ease Logistics automated follower truck will be manned and connected.

Photo: Ease Logistics

Ease Logistics said it will soon be the first in the U.S. to deploy connected and automated trucking technology for truck platooning on revenue-generating routes.

Ohio-based Ease Logistics is the chosen host fleet partner for the Ohio Department of Transportation and DriveOhio's Rural Automated Driving Systems project.

Truck platooning is when two trucks are connected through automation. Both trucks are equipped with radar to detect other vehicles and monitor and adjust to the changing environment around them. Ease will use a pair of 53-foot platoon-equipped tractor-trailers, a leader and a follower truck (nicknamed Tom and Jerry) are equipped with artificial intelligence and connected by Bosch wireless vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology. The lead vehicle controls the speed and the following vehicle has precisely matched braking and acceleration technology to respond to the lead vehicle’s movement.

The data generated by the Rural ADS project will be shared with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop national automated driving system policies, which Ease said will help remove barriers to the safe integration of these technologies across the U.S.

"We are excited to partner with DriveOhio, ODOT, the Transportation Research Center, and Bosch to bring innovation to our roads in Ohio," says Peter Coratola Jr., Ease Logistics president and CEO. "This technology is a great stepping stone toward a safer, more efficient and effective supply chain – and safer rural roads."

Truck Platooning

In preparation for the deployment, the Ease drivers for the project have undergone a combined 400 hours of training at the Transportation Research Center. These drivers are now conducting preliminary solo runs to monitor data transmission to Ease and identify the best Ohio routes for platooning.

"This technology was thoroughly and comprehensively tested by Bosch and the TRC before being released to Ease for platooning and deployment on revenue-generating routes," said Josh McMullen, Ease Logistics corporate development manager.

Platooning mode requires that both trucks be manned with a trained Ease driver and will occur in very specific and ideal circumstances, the company reports. Weather, road conditions, and traffic will all be taken into consideration when Ease drivers choose the moment during a route to engage platooning mode.

Platooning mode disengages at the discretion of both trucks' drivers, and the driver of the follower truck can override platooning mode to take manual control at any moment. Platooning mode also disengages automatically if any vehicle drives between the two trucks.

"Our goal is to develop, pilot, and deploy new smart technology initiatives to ensure that Ohio is the leading state in smart mobility innovation," said Abbi Failla, Ease vice president of business operations.

Ease was honored as number one in transportation on Fortune's list of America's Most Innovative Companies and number 143 across all industries.

"Partnering with innovative companies like Ease to conduct real-world testing is key to unlocking the full safety and efficiency benefits that truck platooning technology can provide," said Preeti Choudhary, DriveOhio executive director.

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