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Locomation partners with Stevens on autonomous convoys

by Charles Choi
Autonomous trucking startup Locomation is partnering with Stevens with the aim of deploying up to 500 trucks over five years. Courtesy: Locomation.

Autonomous trucking technology company Locomation is partnering with freight carrier Stevens Trucking with the aim of deploying up to 500 trucks over five years.

Founded in 2018, Pittsburgh-based Locomation was launched by veterans of Carnegie Mellon’s National Robotics Engineering Center. The startup previously signed contracts with Wilson Logistics, PGT Trucking, and Christenson Transportation.

Locomation’s Autonomous Relay Convoy (ARC) system is a human-led convoy of two trucks that are electronically tethered. This strategy enables one driver to operate the lead truck while a second driver rests in the follower truck, allowing carriers to safely operate two trucks for 20 to 22 hours per day, all while remaining in compliance with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s hours of service regulations.

Locomation’s strategy is projected to enable carriers to deliver twice the cargo two times as far and two times as fast, while reducing the per truck greenhouse gas footprint by as much as 22 percent.

“We are so pleased to enter this partnership with Stevens Trucking Company,” Çetin Meriçli, co-founder and CEO of Locomation, said in a statement. “With the ARC system in place, Stevens will be primed to boost capacity and gain market share while saving money, time, and fuel in the short term. Stevens will be at the forefront, able to grab the opportunities that come with operating a transportation system custom built for autonomous trucks.”

The new eight-year agreement will see El Reno, Oklahoma-based Stevens restructure its operations using Locomation’s planning system to optimize routes for autonomy. If this work proves successful, Stevens may deploy up to 500 trucks equipped with Locomation’s ARC systems on six separate routes over five years.

Founded in 1979, Stevens currently operates more than 1,500 trailers and more than 300 tractors throughout the continental United States, with its primary activity in Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio. Stevens will use the relay system to run trucks more than 20 hours per day. Locomation estimates the total freight transportation value of autonomous trucking on the six routes at more than $9 billion annually.

All in all, Stevens plans to double its market share on these routes, reduce empty miles by up to 50 percent, and improve fuel efficiency by more than 20 percent. Including the substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for their shipper customers, Stevens’ autonomous vehicle service promises to be a win-win for everyone.

“We are delighted to partner with Locomation to offer autonomous trucking services to our customers,” Kenney Stevens, CEO of Stevens Trucking, said in a statement. “We chose Locomation because we’re convinced they are bringing to market the safest and most viable turnkey model to enable us to deploy autonomous technology in the near term. For Stevens, this is an incredible opportunity to establish a strong early mover presence in the lanes we’ve chosen to launch in and enable us to double our market share.”

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