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Locomation takes next step in deploying autonomous trucking technology nationwide

The company has begun testing its new generation of AV trucking hardware, closer to production, on regional highways as the next step towards full commercial deployment

Earlier this year, Locomation announced that it expects to be the first company to deploy autonomous trucking technology safely, legally and routinely in commercial long-haul operations at scale across the United States. 

Locomation has made a name for itself with its human-guided Autonomous Relay ConvoySM technology, the first step on the road to full autonomy. Their human-guided approach combines the superior cognitive ability of a human driver to lead the convoy through complex roadway situations, and the controlled precision of autonomous technology in the follower truck to maintain tight synchronization between the two trucks. Each driver takes turns actively leading the electronically-tethered convoy, fully engaged in the function of driving, while the other driver in the follower truck rests in the sleeper berth, off the clock, as the vehicle follows in autonomous mode.

Before Locomation can commercially deploy, the company will need to conduct testing on select roadways, one of the important parts of its multifaceted testing approach to validating the system’s safety performance. The company took its next steps toward achieving this goal last month by publishing its Voluntary Safety Self-Assessment based on guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation. 

The USDOT’s framework contains 12 priority-safety elements to consider, including system safety, vehicle cybersecurity, object & event detection & response, human machine interfaces, crashworthiness, consumer education and training, validation methods, and federal, state & local laws.

The VSSA describes Locomation’s approach to safety, which has been grounded in decades of experience in autonomy, automotive, and safety, and their commitment to be transparently and verifiably safe. To achieve this, Locomation is creating a Safety Case to prove that the ARC system is acceptably safe: defined as free from unreasonable risk of harm to humans and/or property. The Safety Case provides Locomation with a clear, actionable, and responsible path to product delivery.

“With safety as our North Star, Locomation will be the first to deploy autonomous trucking technology safely, legally, and routinely in commercial operations at scale across the United States,” said Locomation Co-founder and CEO Çetin Meriçli in the document’s introduction. “We are building our technology the right way, evaluating and addressing the impacts that success will mean for professional truck drivers, for trucking companies and industry partners, for the communities where the technology will be deployed, for our supply chain, for the environment, and for the people of this great nation.”

Locomation has established a five-pillar safety framework to guide the design, development, validation, and operations outlined  in its comprehensive assessment. 

Safety Culture: Everyone in the organization is responsible for safety, and anybody can report safety concerns or initiate a fleet and crew grounding without fear of retribution. 

Engineer It Right: The ARC system is engineered to be functionally safe at all times, behaving predictably with other road users, and shall be evaluated through rigorous verification and validation testing. In the presence of significant faults or failures, it will transition to a safe state.

Manufacture It Right: The ARC system will be free of manufacturing and assembly quality deficiencies and defects that pose an unreasonable safety risk. 

Operate It Right: The ARC system will be operated only by authorized human drivers who shall be appropriately trained and certified to be an autonomous truck operator. The driving performance of the human driver in the lead truck will be monitored to ensure they are situationally aware at all times. The vehicles, including the ARC technology, will be properly maintained, and pre- and post-trip inspections shall be performed and documented. 

Improve It Right: The safety of the ARC system will be continuously improved through actively monitoring performance indicators, tracking outcomes, and analyzing trends. Anomalies and issues will be properly tracked, reported, and resolved, including implementation of appropriate preventative measures.

The company also laid out its approach to driver onboarding, training and certification, and provided information to help the public understand the technology to help ensure that all road users are enabled to use the road safely together. In the near term, the company is driving unprecedented change to the ecosystem by making long-haul trucking safer and by improving the quality of life for truck drivers to help attract the highest-quality and most experienced autonomous truck operators.  

Click here to read Locomation’s entire self-assessment.

Ashley Coker

Ashley is interested in everything that moves, especially trucks and planes. She covers air cargo, trucking and sponsored content. She studied journalism at Middle Tennessee State University and worked as an editor and reporter at two daily newspapers before joining FreightWaves. Ashley spends her free time at the dog park with her beagle, Ruth, or scouring the internet for last minute flight deals.