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James Murphy, VP of government affairs over at Locomation is with us. Now I know they’re based in Pittsburgh. I wonder what he thinks of these odds. I don’t know if he’s a Steelers fan, but their odds of winning the super bowl are 90 to one 90 to one. James. It’s the Steelers. What do you think about that?

James Murphy

Yeah, that’s pretty amazing. I mean, you know, it really seems to be dominating the conversation in Pittsburgh these days, is the decision to rename the stadium has been the topic of discussion.

 

Speaker 2

They know.

 

Speaker 0

It’s not Heinz anymore. It is winning.

 

Speaker 2

Field. It can’t be some.

 

Speaker 0

Insurance company, isn’t it?

 

James Murphy

Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, they had a big, big ceremony the other day lowering the bottles down from the stadium and I think it was bittersweet and I think probably mixed emotions around town about the decision to name it, but happy to be here today and thanks for having me.

 

Speaker 0

Yeah. You know, we were just reading a blog that you had written before we came on air. And one of the stats in there that really caught my eye was that it said the rate of depression is nine times greater in truck drivers than the rest of the population. Let’s talk a little bit about that quality of life for drivers that you wrote about in this blog.

 

James Murphy

Right? No, I’m glad that you picked up on that statistic particularly, you know, that was one when I was researching for this blog, that I was pretty flabbergasted when I came across it, I knew that there were issues amongst a truck driving population and largely a lot of the issues that are often discussed are around the physical health issues with driving a truck. But a lot of time isn’t really spent talking about some of the mental health impacts of driving a truck and thinking about myself. I’ve had a CDL for 20 years at this point. I haven’t driven a truck in a very long time, but just thinking about, you know, the loneliness that you experience on the road as a driver, whether that’s long haul regional or de route, but I think more applicable to over the road long haul and just kind of the mental toll that can have on the trucking community.

And I think another really kind of shocking statistic too, is that the suicide rate amongst truck drivers is in the top five amongst all professions. So there really is a mental toll that takes place on the truck driving community. And, you know, they do so much for our country in terms of keeping our shelves stock, making sure we have the goods that we need. And I don’t think people spend enough time really thinking about what it actually means and how tough it can be to be a driver.

 

Speaker 2

Yeah. So James, connect the dots for everybody out there. Now we’re familiar with Locomation. We talked to you guys a lot. Okay. So it’s a driverless truck. How does that affect the driver? Obviously there’s no driver and to connect the dots how’s Locomation improving the drivers, or how does it improve that quality of life to impact those in a positive way?

 

James Murphy

Yeah, absolutely. And that’s something that’s in the forefront of our mind as we’re developing this technology. And what we’re doing is a little bit different than some of the other autonomous truck companies out there. We’re developing a two truck linked convoys system that has a driver operating the lead truck, just like they do today. And then the follow truck is operating and following autonomously while that driver is in the sleeper berth, not using their hours of service periodically, they take turns leading the convoy and resting in the follower position. This allows that convoy to operate up to 22 hours continuously and what this does for drivers, what people don’t really realize and appreciate is kind of the stress and uncertainty around time that they may spend waiting for loads.

 

The inefficiency of how loads are given to drivers time spent at the dock and kind of that adds to the stress of the job, which, you know, can impact the mental health. And in addition to developing this two truck point convoy system, we’re also developing the digital transportation system, which has proprietary software that actually is for route and load optimization to cut down on the wait times for drivers. So instead of sitting around, waiting for loads and stressing out about, are they going to be able to get to their destination in time? There’ll be part of these two truck linked convoys that are using this freight optimization software to allow them to get their loads quicker, keep the wheels turning and they’re able to get to their destinations.

 

And ultimately they’re able to get home to their families more frequently, which as you know, loneliness and alone time on the road is one of the leading factors of some of these mental health issues that we’re discussing here. So we really think it’s a win-win for the drivers to be operating these linked convoys. And ultimately I look at these as kind of the premium truck driver jobs that drivers will want because it is going to be a better quality of life. There is going to be better at-home time. And we think that that’s really a big selling point of this technology, as I said, it’s going to make the drivers lives better.

 

Speaker 0

Well, what is that 500 relay model? That was something else I was reading there. And I’d like, just some more details on it. How does that work? And what’s the driver experience like inside one of those 500 relay models?

 

James Murphy

Yeah, absolutely. So kind of the experience of being in the model, the easiest way that I explained it is you look into the essentially as a team driver model as it exists today, but instead of taking your rest time in the same cab as your partner driving, you would be taking your rest time in that following truck and to get to the point about the 500 mile relay. So look at this scenario of essentially what we’re doing with our two truck link convoys, as well as our digital transportation system is that we’ve broken out the long haul segment of trucking from the local routes. So instead of the long haul routes, as they’re being run traditionally today, you would be running them in 500 mile relay intervals and periodically again, going back to the leader and follower taking turns, switching off, leading that convoy resting, not using hours of service in that 500 mile relay convoy to keep those trucks moving 20 to 22 hours continuously.

And when you talk about truck utilization, as it exists today, I think trucks on average use anywhere from six and a half to seven hours a day. And the rest of the time they spent sitting idling waiting for loads. But we’re talking about here, those trucks nagging me able to run 20 to 22 hours continuously. So that’s, you know, great for great for the owners of the trucks. It’s great for the drivers because the more the wheels that turn in the more money is being made. So we really look at this as a win-win not only for carriers and shippers, but the drivers as well.

 

Speaker 2

Yeah. So you’ve got that meet and greet type of thing that goes out, right. But now, now you’re running it in half the time. So basically you’re taking out those miles, those tweener loads that drivers really hate and they can get home to their families. They can exercise, which, I mean, exercise is part of mental health, right?

 

James Murphy

Oh, absolutely. Undoubtedly. I mean, just the ability, you know, I was talking with our drivers just the other day. And again, it’s been a long time since I’ve driven a truck, but we all know that the options that are available to drivers when you’re out on the road and we see it just traveling, you know, at rest stops is not great in terms of food and the ability to exercise. So any amount that we are able to get drivers home more where they’re able to either prepare their own meals, have more choices about the foods. They want to eat, exercise more, do things with their family to improve the time and quality that they get with their family. I think what paid dividends, not only for the physical health and drivers, but mental health as well.

 

Speaker 2

Love it.

 

Speaker 0

Yeah. Well, where do people get more information about this? If they want to learn about this model, they want to drive with this model. They want to use trucks within it. Where do we send them to?

 

James Murphy

Yeah, no, that’s great. So they can head on over to Locomation AI and on our website, you’ll find a bunch of material, including the blog post around driver quality of life, but also some explainers about what we’re doing and what we hope to accomplish and how it benefits drivers. And yeah. So head on over to Locomation.ai.

 

Speaker 0

Well, James, thank you very much for coming on the show today, by the way, do you want to answer a stupid question? It was, if you could retroactively edit a TV show, what would you add or remove.

 

James Murphy

You know, I hope it hasn’t been said here yet, but the obvious answer is a, the Seinfeld finale, you know, a strong, strong show and they, I don’t know what happened at the end, but you know, if we could build a time machine similar to what’s on Michael’s hat and head back in time, I’d head back and make a change to the finale there.

 

Speaker 0

But thank you very much. That was, that was a great choice.

 

Speaker 2

It really was. They mailed that in. Yeah. They mailed it in.

 

James Murphy

They did. I appreciate it. Everything up to that, but thank you for your time. Thank you for having me.

 

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