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Hi, and welcome to our talk with Locomation. Today, we’re talking about autonomous trucks and why Locomation’s AV trucking is the only commercially viable autonomous trucking solution in the near future. Joining me is Finch Fulton, vice president of policy and strategy for Locomation. Finch, how are you doing?

Finch Fulton

I’m doing all right. How about you?

 

Speaker 1

I’m good. Thanks for asking. Let’s go ahead and dive right into it. For our viewers who don’t know. Can you tell us how Locomation’s approach to autonomous trucking is unique and how it works?

 

Finch Fulton

Absolutely. Well, one thing is for sure. And that’s that our founders are a little bit different. Going back to the autonomous vehicle hype days of 2018, they thought that one, the market for autonomous trucking was far better than the market for robo taxis and two, that level four fully driverless autonomy was likely to be many years and billions of dollars away. So they knew from their decades of experience that the technology already existed that could capture most of the economic gains of fully autonomous trucking, without the huge developmental hurdles and legal risks that others would incur.

They had a solution that was realistically deployable in the near future. And it looks like this: First, you set up a truck lead to run on a relay model, splitting out the local assets from the long haul, with proprietary software to plan and implement long haul loads running around the clock. On to this model. we deploy the human-led, two-truck Autonomous Relay Convoy, or ARC, system with one active driver operating two trucks while the second one rests in the sleeper berth. At the right time, the drivers switch places, so the convoy can run up to 22 hours a day in compliance with federal hours of service rules, delivering four loads in one day, and the ability to bring drivers back home every night, ready to go again.

This is how you start to generate the exponential savings and revenue increases for carriers by combining multiple advanced vehicle technologies with the human drivers.

 

Speaker 1

So your approach really is fundamentally different from the level four autonomy market, but how does it stack up in terms of cost savings?

 

Finch Fulton

Good question. So look, Locomation’s ARC system achieves two-thirds of the cost savings that autonomous trucks can bring someday, assuming enough time and billions of dollars are spent, but we can actually be in commercial operations without the major changes in U.S. federal regulations that the other systems will require. So fully autonomous trucks can potentially save anywhere from 38 to 44% on operational costs. But using our approach, ARC is estimated to create a 28% cost savings compared to conventional operations, which is where that two thirds number comes from. So some of this comes from the new operational model enabled by the Digital Transportation System, which improves equipment fuel and driver utilization for the optimized routes.

But the majority of the savings come from deploying ARC, which significantly cuts driver time, expands range, and further improves fuel efficiency, which gets you to a 21% overall fuel burn reduction. So Locomation can generate 28% operational savings in the near term. The ability to remove the driver from a truck is many years and regulatory changes away. Let me tell you, I came from government. When you’re waiting for the federal government to update their regulations, you’re talking about waiting for years.

 

Speaker 1

From a technological point of view, you will be able to deploy much sooner than the rest of the field, but how about regulation? What’s the difference between how your system is treated by the rules today versus level four autonomy?

 

Finch Fulton

Yeah. So for trucking, there are rules ensuring the safe operations of the commercial motor vehicle with regulatory requirements for the human specifically. These are things that truck drivers do every day, but that no fancy technology can duplicate yet. For example, you could create a perfect autonomous truck, but the vast majority of the time, it’s the other road users that cause trucks to get into crashes. So when this happens, typically a human will assess the situation, render assistance, or call an ambulance if needed. And then if possible, pull the truck to the side of the road and put out warning markers. You have to do this within 10 minutes specifically.

They may also have to do a walk around with first responders to inspect not only your fancy truck, but the old beat-up trailer that’s being hauled. You may have to inspect and re-secure cargo. You definitely have to pick up your warning markers. And you have to be able to prove to law enforcement that your truck is operating in compliance and ready to resume their trip. So these regulations are extremely challenging without a human presence and represent examples of the real regulatory barriers that are in place today that prevent autonomous trucking companies from deploying without human drivers present/

For us, we don’t have that problem because we do have a human driver operating the convoy at all times. So we are illegal.

 

Speaker 1

Locomation has already announced three customers. Once they start deploying your trucks, how will you use the data gathered to further develop your autonomous technology?

 

Finch Fulton

Yeah. So this is another thing that makes us unique to our knowledge locations. The only AV trucking company with signed customer contracts. So after our customers deploy ARC, they will already be re-engineering their supply chain for autonomy, improving their efficiencies, the cost for shippers, pay for drivers, and increasing their profits. So while they’re on the road, generating these benefits, we’ll be using our autonomous trucks to rack up millions of real-world miles to evolve our technology further. When you look at organizing routes with the Digital Transportation System, and then combine that with future locomotion fully autonomous trucks, you can actually reach 50% cost savings with human drivers now focusing on local routes and other logistics jobs. 

The main difference though, is that our approach will be ready when the technology and regulations are ready. But in the meantime, customers can start capturing the benefits of human data at autonomy today, and they’ll be ready to capture the benefits and the market of the future. That’s a big deal.

 

Speaker 1

Finch, we appreciate your insights on Locomation’s AV trucking solution. Thank you for your time today.

 

Finch Fulton

Absolutely. Thank you.

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