Executives from both companies said that they believe the best fleet uses for this iteration of autonomous transportation will be for logistics, last-mile deliveries, school buses, and on-campus...

Executives from both companies said that they believe the best fleet uses for this iteration of autonomous transportation will be for logistics, last-mile deliveries, school buses, and on-campus environments.

Photo: Lightning eMotors

Lightning eMotors, a provider of zero-emission medium-duty commercial vehicles and technology for fleets, announced a partnership with Perrone Robotics today. According to a news release, the partnership brings Class 3 - 7 commercial fleet customers self-driving, electric fleet vehicles that can be deployed for a wide range of dedicated uses. 

The partnership expands Lightning’s zero-emissions EV platform offerings to include Perrone’s AV-powered technology, TONY, a vehicle-independent retrofit kit designed to enable vehicles to transport people and goods in geofenced and dedicated driving routes. Vehicles equipped with Perrone’s self-driving technology embedded into Lightning’s vehicles for both cargo and passenger uses can be ordered immediately.

“We were looking for partners who could deliver autonomous capabilities to our customers today, and in the future — and that’s what Perrone offers,” Lightning eMotors CEO Tim Reeser said. “We offer perhaps the widest range of electric commercial vehicles in North America, and now we have an autonomous vehicle solution for our products, ranging from ambulances to campus shuttles and other commercial applications.”

The First Order

PIDC, Philadelphia's public-private economic development corporation, is the first Lightning eMotors customer to purchase a self-driving, all-electric shuttle powered by Perrone’s TONY AV kit. Pennsylvania's first AV shuttle will provide transportation services to visitors and employees within the Philadelphia Navy Yard, a 1,200-acre dynamic, urban development centrally located in the waterfront business campus.

Lightning and Perrone are in active discussions with a number of other potential customers as well.

Fostering Further AV Adoption

Perrone holds a Pioneer Patent for its “MAX” general purpose robotics operating system, which is the backbone of its TONY solution. Together with MAX, TONY is a flexible and adaptable AV solution. The AV retrofit kit can be integrated into new vehicles and can also be integrated into existing, repowered vehicles.

“A lot of electric vehicle manufacturers are focused on just one vehicle size, and in many cases it’s a bespoke custom platform,” Perrone Robotics, Inc. Founder and CEO Paul Perrone said. “But that’s not how we operate at Perrone – our partnership with Lightning is an example of how we want to make a bigger impact. Lightning’s wide range of vehicles is aligned perfectly with the way we want to help foster the widespread adoption of self-driving technology.”

AV Application Options

Initially, Lightning will deploy Perrone’s technology into two product categories, including fully autonomous Level 4 application environments with dedicated routes such as college campuses, and Level 2 applications for high-end visual and safety features for commercial vehicles. Currently, Level 4 vehicles can only operate in geofenced areas, but demand for this use is rising as campuses, logistics yards, downtown business districts, resorts, and other organizations and municipalities seek EV/AV solutions.

Level 2 autonomous vehicles are seeing rising demand, especially for transit vehicle operators, who can benefit from safety features like lane-keeping capability, adaptive cruise control and forward collision avoidance. All of these features are now available among Lightning’s platform offerings and will be powered by lidar technology, fused with radar to add an additional layer of redundancy.

“Our customers are telling us they want this technology and now we can deliver it. These vehicles are ideal for college campuses, downtown business districts, vacation resorts and for large logistics yards,” Reeser said. “And, thanks to our partnership with Perrone, we stand alone as the only all-electric commercial vehicle provider that can offer Class 3 – 7 medium-duty vehicles that are fully autonomous and are certified by the departments of transportation, local transit agencies and other commercial organizations.”

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet

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