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BoxBot testing autonomous electric vehicles for parcel firm OnTrac

Delivery firm BoxBot is testing a self-driving, electric-powered vehicle in northern California for regional parcel firm OnTrac after the state issued BoxBot a permit to test the operation of an autonomous vehicle with an individual in the driver’s seat.

Separately, BoxBot has begun driving electric-powered, non-autonomous vehicles for OnTrac in the Oakland metropolitan area. Oakland-based BoxBot is working to fully electrify the vehicles it uses in California for OnTrac, whose eight-state territory encompasses 65 million people.

BoxBot and OnTrac began their initiative last fall with a pilot program in Oakland. The program was expanded in April when the state allowed testing of light-duty, autonomous vehicles. At the same time, BoxBot entered into a regional service provider agreement with OnTrac. OnTrac, based in Chandler, Arizona, relies on regional driver contractors across its territory to deliver its parcels.

Under California law, companies must be permitted to test autonomous delivery vehicles, and in almost all cases the tests must be conducted with a “safety driver” sitting behind the wheel. Under no circumstances can deliveries be made in the state using autonomous vehicles.

As of April, there were 62 companies with permits and 678 autonomous vehicles licensed with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Waymo was the first, and still is, the only company to win approval to test autonomous vehicles in California without a safety driver.

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Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.

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