- Autonomous tech company Locomation reached an eight-year agreement with Oklahoma-based Stevens Trucking to equip up to 500 trucks with self-driving capabilities, according to an Aug. 30 news release.
- The regional trucking company primarily operates in Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio. Cole Stevens, vice president of sales, told Transport Dive that the business plans to use the technology on six lane segments, centered on I-40, I-35 and I-44.
- Stevens said the technology could allow the company to haul twice the cargo and increase driver pay from the generated savings. The tech will be deployed over a five-year span, creating about 250 tethered pairs involving a driver-operated truck and autonomous truck.
“Dock-to-dock autonomy is very far off,” Stevens said. “You’re talking about an entire ecosystem that has to be created.”
Equipping existing trucks with autonomous technology allows Stevens Trucking to see the benefits — and expected cost savings — faster.
“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,” CEO Kenney Stevens said in the news release.
Other companies already have partnerships with Locomation. They include Christenson Transportation, PGT Trucking and Wilson Logistics, which re-signed a 2020 agreement after selling part of its western operations in December 2021.
Under Locomotion’s model, one driver operate the lead truck while a second driver rests in the follower truck. The two trucks are electronically tethered and allow carriers to safely operate two trucks for 20-22 hours per day, the company said in its release.
Nick Geale, vice president of workforce and labor policy for the American Trucking Associations, voiced support for this kind of relay model while talking at a North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority committee meeting on June 21.
Geale said he does “not anticipate that automated technology will be deployed large-scale in this country” in the near term. But among those limited uses, he suggested that a tandem truck driving along with a human-operated truck might take place in a couple of years.