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Autonomous trucks make delivery stop at Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank

The Locomation trucks were able to deliver four pallets of food to be donated to people in need.
Published: Oct. 27, 2020 at 11:44 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Last week on Thursday, a special delivery was made to the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank, and the drivers had some help along the way.

Trucks equipped with advanced autonomous driving technology from the company Locomation delivered four pallets of food to be donated to people in need in the Toledo area, after being distributed from the Greater Pittsburgh Community Foodbank.

“We do share amongst other food banks, but it is so great to be able to reduce our costs with donations from companies such as trucking because those can become very expensive," explains Human Resources representative for the Food Bank, Barbara Hofstetter. "We want to make sure that as much of every dollar that we have is going towards meals and putting food on people’s plates.”

Locomation, a trucking company focused on safety, utilizing the nation’s foremost experts in robotics technology, safety, and artificial intelligence, made the delivery run from Pittsburgh through Ohio via the Ohio Turnpike to Detroit that day, traveling more than 280 miles.

During the demonstration, two platooning vehicles (tractor-trailers) were operated manually by the drivers on surface streets.

Truck platooning is the linking of two or more trucks in convoy using connectivity technology and automated driving support systems. These vehicles automatically maintain a set, close distance between each other when they are connected.

While on interstates and turnpikes, the lead truck was driven manually while the driver of the following tractor-trailer engaged the vehicle’s platooning technology, enabling the vehicle to follow the lead vehicle in the platoon. Truck Platooning is considered SAE Level I automation. Both vehicles had an operator on board at all times.

DriveOhio, an initiative of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) charged with developing and deploying automated and connected vehicle (AV/CV) technology, and the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission (OTIC) have partnered with a multi-state coalition to solicit and deploy a state-of-the-art smart logistics project to test Level I automation.

“In Ohio, we are designing and deploying the transportation system of the 21st century,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. “Safety is our primary concern, and as smart mobility technologies mature, we believe these innovations will make our roads safer. Deployments, like this one, will help to inform future projects.”

ODOT and DriveOhio requested information about the program in early March 2020, on behalf of all Smart Belt Coalition (SBC) members, for companies willing to demonstrate truck platooning and/or automated driving operations through the three partner states on roadways operated by the five SBC agencies (ODOT, OTIC, Michigan Department of Transportation, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission).

Luke Stedke, Managing Director for Communications and Policy with DriveOhio says the program is in the beginning stages, but aims to make trucking safer for drivers in the long haul.

“We see this as economic development, we see this as the future workforce," adds Stedke. “ We want to make sure these technologies are built here safely and efficiently."

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