Locomation’s autonomous vehicle technology is about to expand. Christenson Transportation just finalized their agreement with the tech company. Christenson plans to implement the technology in their trucks as soon as possible. The roll out will begin on their Nashville routes that line 500 miles along the 40, 24, and 65 highways. Christenson can expect a slew of benefits, but truckers everywhere are taking note, afraid their jobs may become obsolete.
Locomation’s CEO and cofounder, Cetin Meriçli, announced the deal between the companies. Locomation has already signed agreements with two other trucking companies, which makes Chistenson the third to join. Wilson Logististics and PGT Trucking are the other two companies that have begun to implement the ARC system technology.
How good is this deal?
ARC stands for Autonomous Relay Convoy. In their announcement, Cetin Meriçli gave some of the numbers that Christenson could expect with the implementation of their tech. They could expect capacity to go up by 52% while dropping empty miles by 50%. Other benefits include an 18% increase in fuel efficiency and operating costs going down by 52%. According to their models, all of this means annual profits could quadruple. All of this sounds good, but what is “Autonomous Relay Convoys”?
The ARC System Explained
The technology runs on the idea that each delivery is paired with another truck. One truck, the driver, will lead the convoy while an off-duty driver will follow in the autonomous vehicle behind. This means the driver sets the route and the second vehicle follows the lead truck. Both vehicles will still have drivers. The only difference is that the second driver will be off duty. They will switch places as the shift ends. This means that, ideally, a truck can continue driving for 20 or more hours at a time.
Are truckers going to lose their jobs to Autonomous Technology?
Chrstenson was adamant in the press conference that this solution would not cut any drivers. The company wanted to find an autonomous solution that would not hurt their drivers. This appears to be the best solution for that, and drivers will still be present during phase 1 of the implementation.
Phase 2 is where things get interesting. The convoy becomes what they are calling a “platoon” with a third truck. This third truck would not have a driver present. It is unclear if platooning would mean more goods being shipped or fewer shipments needed. In a perfect world, the benefits of the program would drum up more business and a third truck would maximize output for larger profits. This profit could potentially raise truckers’ pay while simultaneously keeping every driver they have.
Trucking autonomous solutions are rolling out in more places across the country. Cetin Meriçli and Locomation may have the best solution to keep truckers while still capitalizing on new self-driving vehicles. It would be nice to kick back in your truck and take a nap while you wait for your shift to begin in a new city. The rollout will be slow, but Christenson plans to implement the ARC systems on 100% of their fleet in the coming years.
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