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GSCW chat recap: The future of automation

“This is not about completely replacing the drivers or eliminating jobs. This is about how do we make the driver’s job safer, more comfortable and improving their quality of life.”

This fireside chat recap is from Day 4 of FreightWaves Global Supply Chain Week. Day 4 focuses on the automotive sector.

FIRESIDE CHAT TOPIC: One of the companies leading the development of autonomous technology, and the first in the use of it for platooning, discusses the pace of adoption of that technology on the open roads.

DETAILS: Locomation comes out of the robotics research efforts at Carnegie Mellon and is based in Pittsburgh. Its first target is to allow a company to use its technology for a convoy of vehicles, starting with a second vehicle working off the driver’s control of the lead truck. In this interview, CEO Cetin Mericli is frank about the exciting prospects for the technology as well as the fact that some of its more revolutionary promises remain a ways off.  

SPEAKER and INTERVIEWER: Cetin Mericli is the CEO and co-founder of Locomation, a leading developer of safe and reliable autonomous driving technology for semi-trucks. An experienced entrepreneur and formerly a special faculty at the National Robotics Engineering Center of Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute, Mericli has two decades of experience in developing and deploying complex robotic systems for commercial and military applications — and he has played key roles in over a dozen high-profile applied robotics projects. He is a well-published expert in AI, robotics and machine learning. He is interviewed by Anthony Smith, lead economist and strategic executive producer at FreightWaves. Smith started his career in tech as a commercialization associate, during which time he evaluated emerging technologies and innovations.


“With proper prudence and responsible deployment of technology, every single stakeholder in the supply chain today can benefit from it.”

“Some people are overestimating where the technology is today.”

“Even if you get everything completely right, it is going to take decades to replace all the current trucks and the current supply chain and automate it.”

“Humans still have our edge and we will have a special place in the ecosystem.”

John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.