Self-driving truck developers are partnering with logistics providers to demonstrate the value of their technology. Locomation this week announced an eight-tear agreement with Christenson Transportation Inc. The midsize transport provider plans to boost its fleet capacity with Locomation's autonomous truck technology. The companies announced their collaboration at the Truckload Carriers Association Annual Conference in Las Vegas.
“We are thrilled to partner with Locomation to offer autonomous trucking services to our customers,” said Don Christenson, president of Christenson Transportation. “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 Christenson, 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,” he added.
Gene Christenson founded Christenson Transportation in 1979 as a brokerage firm. The family-owned company has locations in Springfield, Mo., and Lebanon, Tenn. It started its truck line in 1995, and it is now running in all 48 contiguous states.
Christenson Transporation specializes in the hauling of high-value, high-risk, and time-sensitive freight including tires, pet food, paper, electronics, and other general commodities.
Locomation ARC could double performance
Locomation’s Autonomous Relay Convoy (ARC) system consists of two trucks that are electronically tethered. The Human-Guided Autonomy system allows one driver to operate the lead truck while a second driver rests in the follower truck. As a result, carriers can safely operate two trucks for 20 to 22 hours per day while remaining in compliance with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s hours-of-service regulations.
Locomation claimed that ARC will enable carriers to deliver double the cargo, double the distance, and twice as fast, while reducing the per-truck greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint by 22%.
“We are delighted to enter this partnership with Christenson Transportation,” said Dr. Çetin Meriçli, co-founder and CEO of Locomation. “With our system in place, Christenson will be primed to boost capacity while saving money, time, and fuel in the short term. Christenson will be at the forefront, able to grab the opportunities that come with operating a supply chain custom built for autonomous trucks.”
Veterans from Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) launched Locomation in 2018. The Pittsburgh-based company's team includes experts in robotics, artificial intelligence, trucking, freight optimization, automotive technology, and safety. It said its autonomous vehicle products and tools help clients to implement operating models.
Locomation has previously signed contracts with Wilson Logistics and PGT Trucking. Last week, the company announced that Wilson Logistics has recommitted to deploying 1,120 ARC units on its southwest routes starting in 2023.
Christenson to restructure operating model
Using Locomation’s proprietary planning and scheduling systems, Christenson Transportation will restructure its operating model to run its trucks more than 20 hours per day. The company will then deploy 500 trucks equipped with Locomation’s ARC systems on five separate Autonomous Relay Network segments.
Christenson said it wants to increase its available capacity in the markets it serves. With Locomation’s freight optimization, the company expects to increase capacity by 52%, reduce empty miles by 50%, and improve fuel efficiency by 18%.
The increased loaded miles and 30% reduced operating cost, combined with the increased market share on the lanes it operates on, could quadruple Christenson's bottom-line net profit, according to the companies.
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