The goal of Pittsburgh-based Locomation, which was established in 2018 by a group of the top minds in robotics, artificial intelligence, and autonomous cars, is to automate our mobile environment. Their first objective is to give the freight sector autonomy in order to boost productivity and ease labor shortages in a world economy that is becoming more integrated.
The Autonomous Relay ConvoySM (ARC) technology consists of two autonomy-capable vehicles with one driver in each truck. It is Locomation's first scalable step in long-haul trucking automation. While the driver in the follower truck naps in the sleeper berth and the truck is in autonomous follower mode, each driver alternately actively leads the convoy.
The ARC system, which is intended to be an aftermarket upfit kit, will be prepared to begin delivering the advantages of autonomous trucking immediately rather than in 8–10 years. This enables freight businesses to run two trucks for 20–22 hours a day, delivering twice as much cargo, twice as quickly, twice as far, all while using less fuel and emitting fewer emissions.
For Locomation, which was founded in 2018, getting to market quickly was crucial. The engineering and software development team at Locomation knew they would have to quickly and affordably iterate and test their concepts in real-world scenarios in order to compete in the already competitive and well-funded race for autonomous trucking.
Injection molding would have cost $50,000 to $100,000 and taken months for each iteration, even though just 4-6 sensor housings needed to be produced at once and measured more than 2 feet in the Z-direction. Their sensor housings are also required to be highly durable, resistant to impacts, UV rays, and able to weather the sweltering summertime heat on the road.
Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate (ASA), a robust and long-lasting substance recognized for its excellent impact strength and UV resistance, was the material chosen by Locomation's engineers for additive manufacturing sensor housing prototypes. ASA needs a build chamber that is actively heated in order to produce high-strength components without warping.
The Locomation team discovered the AON M2+ High Temperature 3D Printer, which satisfied their size and material processing needs, after taking into account their project's and material's limits. The engineers at Locomation ultimately decided to separate their models to reduce support and post processing. The time it took to prepare pieces for painting with automotive filler primer and little sanding was days, not months.
The AON M2+ has assisted Locomation in speeding to market in several ways, including drill guides, manufacturing jigs, and fixtures, in addition to producing working prototypes.
The Pittsburgh-based Locomation is on track to make history by being the first business to use autonomous trucking technology safely, legally, and regularly in industrial operations across the US.
The first phase product from Locomation is the ARC system, which will enable them to begin taking orders and logging revenue-producing miles years before the competitors.
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