New technology allows semi truck to drive itself

Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A brand-new trucking technology could double the efficiency in the trucking industry.

A local Springfield company Wilson Logistics invested in a new autonomous truck technology from a Pittsburgh-based company Locomation, Inc.

This new technology will be two trucks, with a regular driver in the truck in the front and the second truck driving automatically.

Locomation, Inc. just completed an on-road pilot showcasing today.

“One of the limiting factors, each truck is driven by one person, usually, and that one person can drive the truck to up to 10 1/2 hours every day. Then, at the end of that time, that person has to go and sleep,” said Cetin Mericli, co-founder and CEO of Locomation, Inc.

But with this new technology, Mericli said the second driver will be sleeping while the first driver drives, “makes it possible to get twice as much load, to twice as far, and twice as fast. By taking turns in being in the lead position.”

“It’s very important for drivers to get rest,” said Tom Crawford, CEO of the Missouri trucking association.”

He said this new technology can enhance the future of the trucking industry, “we have a problem in this country with the shortage of drivers. So being able to use this technology is going to be something you’re going to see in the future.”

Mericli explained how the autonomous relay convoy technology will work, “it is a two-truck convoy system, where a human driver drives the front truck, but the second truck that has the capability of driving itself, to the extent that it follows the leader. That turns basically the truck into a robot. It keeps it fixed distance from the leader; it handles the entire driving task.”

Crawford said here will need to be some changes to incorporate this new technology, “current statutes and regulations require us to have a certain period of time they’re required not to be driving. We have a state statute that changes the distance required by a certain distance that trucks can follow. While being connected electronically and through other technology, they have to be able to follow closer than 300 feet.”

But he’s hopeful it will be implemented soon, “trucking’s a pretty big deal, in Springfield Missouri you got some of the best trucking companies in the state and in the nation,” said Crawford, “here in Missouri, trucking, logistics, transportation, employs one of every 16 Missourians. Thanks to the truckers to keep the economy and the wheels moving sort of speak, some of these technologies that you’ll start to see coming on board next four to five to ten years, are going to allow that to keep going even further.”

Wilson Logistics here in Springfield is set to get over 1,000 of these vehicles by 2028.

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