Columbus, Ohio carrier EASE Logistics is set to become the first trucking fleet in the U.S. to deploy connected and automated trucking technology on revenue-generating routes.
In partnership with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and DriveOhio's Rural Automated Driving Systems (ADS) project, EASE – via its 10-truck EASE Expedited division – will deploy two vehicle-to-vehicle communication equipped trucks in a platoon. When in platoon, the lead driver controls speed, braking and acceleration while the manned and connected following vehicle paces the lead vehicle's movement.
The trailing truck, nicknamed Tom, will feature the EASE, ODOT, and DriveOhio logos behind the lead truck, Jerry.
DriveOhio Executive Director Preeti Choudhary said the data generated by the Rural ADS project will be shared with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop national ADS policies in an effort to remove barriers to the safe integration of these technologies across the U.S.
EASE president and CEO Peter Coratola, Jr., said his company was excited about the partnership, which includes the Transportation Research Center (TRC) and Bosch, "to bring innovation to our roads in Ohio. 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 Vice President of Business Operations Abbi Failla added that the company's goal is to develop, pilot and deploy new smart technology initiatives to ensure that Ohio is a leading state in smart mobility innovation.
Platooning mode requires that both trucks be manned with a trained EASE driver, and the switch to automation will occur only under specific and ideal circumstances: weather, road conditions and traffic will all be taken into consideration when EASE drivers choose to engage platooning mode. Platooning mode disengages at the discretion of both drivers, and the driver of the follower truck can override platooning mode to take manual control at any time. Platooning mode automatically disengages if a vehicle pulls between the two tethered semis.
In preparation for the deployment, EASE scrutinized and vetted specialized drivers, each having 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.
"This technology was thoroughly and comprehensively tested by Bosch and the TRC before being released to EASE for platooning and deployment on revenue-generating routes," added Josh McMullen, EASE Corporate Development Manager.