Follow-the-leader: A shortcut to autonomous trucking

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A company spun out of a prestigious university robotics lab is making a big leap in autonomous trucking. Locomation is claiming the world’s first autonomous truck purchase order from a Springfield, MO, company called Wilson Logistics.

The order will equip 1,120 trucks with Locomation’s convoy technology, which enables driverless trucks to follow a lead-truck piloted by a human, combining the best of autonomous technology with reliable human-in-the-loop driving protocols. The first units will be delivered in early 2022.

Trucking is considered one of the nearest horizons for on-road autonomy. A chronic shortage of qualified drivers coupled with safety issues throughout the industry make the sector ripe for autonomous intervention. Peterbilt is developing self-driving technology for its tractor-trailers, as are a number of startups, such as Embark. Tesla’s electric semi is slated for production in 2021.

“We understand the importance of autonomous vehicle technology to the future of Wilson Logistics, and

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