An Ohio trucking company is part of a project to employ truck platooning technology on rural roads.
EASE Logistics of Columbus is partnering with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and DriveOhio's Rural Automated Driving Systems (ADS) project, which will deploy automated trucking technology on revenue-generating routes. The data generated by the project will be shared with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop national ADS policies.
The project has EASE's two semi-trucks equipped with A.I. vehicle-to-vehicle communication – a leader and a follower truck nicknamed 'Tom' and 'Jerry'. When 'Tom' and 'Jerry' are in platooning mode, the lead driver controls speed, braking, and acceleration, while the manned and connected following vehicle precisely matches the lead vehicle's movement.
The trucks will cover routes in 32 counties in eastern and southern Ohio.
Platooning mode requires that both trucks be manned with a trained EASE driver, and will occur in very specific and ideal circumstances – weather, road conditions, and traffic will all be taken into consideration when EASE drivers choose the perfect moment during a route to engage platooning mode. The two trucks can disengage from platooning mode at the discretion of both trucks' drivers, and the driver of the follower truck can override platooning mode to take manual control at any moment. Platooning mode also disengages automatically if any vehicle drives between the two semi-trucks.
In preparation for the deployment, highly specialized and heavily vetted EASE drivers have undergone a combined 400 hours of training at the TRC. These drivers are now conducting preliminary solo runs to monitor data transmission to EASE and identify the best Ohio routes for platooning, according to a statement from the company.
"We are excited to partner with DriveOhio, ODOT, the Transportation Research Center (TRC), and Bosch to bring innovation to our roads in Ohio," said Peter Coratola, Jr., EASE president and CEO. "Through our dedication to innovation, we seek to pioneer new ways of delivering excellence across the supply chain. This technology is a great stepping stone toward a safer, more efficient and effective supply chain – and safer rural roads."
EASE was recently honored as #1 in transportation on Fortune's list of America's Most Innovative Companies - and #143 across all industries.