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Ohio Partners with Michigan, Pennsylvania to Launch Test of Autonomous Trucks
Ohio Partners with Michigan, Pennsylvania to Launch Test of Autonomous Trucks

Locomation trucks platooning across the Cuyahoga River on the Ohio Turnpike.

(COLUMBUS, OHIO)—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.

Locomation, a trucking company focused on safety, utilizing the nation’s foremost experts in robotics technology, safety, and artificial intelligence, made a delivery run from Pittsburgh, PA through the State of Ohio via the Ohio Turnpike to Detroit, MI Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. Travelling more than 280 miles, the company made a delivery of groceries from the Greater Pittsburgh Community Foodbank to the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Foodbank to help ease the pain that this pandemic has brought to citizens.

“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 issued a request for information (RFI) 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). Through the RFI process, the coalition further engaged Locomation, which is developing a trucking technology platform to combine AI-driven autonomy with driver augmentation. This deployment is the successful conclusion of this RFI process.

During the demonstration, two platooning vehicles (tractor trailers) were operated manually on surface streets. 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. This technology augments the driver’s capabilities and enables 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.

About the Smart Belt Coalition:

Formed in 2016, the Smart Belt Coalition (SBC) is a strategic transportation collaborative comprised of 12 organizations, including five transportation agencies and seven research and academic institutions, located throughout Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The purpose of the SBC is to foster collaboration amongst multiple agencies and research affiliates from Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, involving research, testing, policy, standards development, deployments, outreach, and funding pursuits in the area of connected and automated vehicle technology as well as other innovations in the transportation industry.

The SBC has partnered with technology firm Locomation to demonstrate the agency coordination and administrative and procedural requirements necessary for a “Truck Platooning” system to operate continuously through the three states on roadways operated by Michigan Department of Transportation, Ohio Department of Transportation, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. This effort will result in a “lessons learned” document on the steps needed to facilitate a truck platooning and automated driving system operation across jurisdictional boundaries.

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.  Two automated and connected tractor trailers travelled from Pittsburgh, through Ohio, to Michigan.

SBC Members include the following:

Agencies:  Michigan Department of Transportation; DriveOhio, through the Ohio Department of Transportation; Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission; Pennsylvania Department of Transportation; Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission

Research Affiliates:  American Center for Mobility; Kettering University; University of Michigan; The Ohio State University; Transportation Research Center, Inc.; Carnegie Mellon University; and Pennsylvania State University.