Lightning eMotors adds autonomous option to electric fleet vehicles
Colorado's Lightning eMotors is adding Level 2 and Level 4 autonomous capabilities to electric medium-duty commercial vehicles thanks to a partnership with Virginia's Perrone Robotics, and has already announced its first customer.
Perrone's autonomous technology is available as a vehicle agnostic retrofit kit comprising an onboard computer running its own operating software, a sensor suite made up of LiDAR, radar, cameras, GPS, ultrasonic sensors and so on, drive-by-wire adapters, and a monitoring platform.
Lightning plans to install Perron's TONY AV tech into its Class 3 to 7 commercial fleet vehicles to initially operate at Level 2 and Level 4 autonomy.
"We were looking for partners who could deliver autonomous capabilities to our customers today, and in the future — and that’s what Perrone offers," said CEO of Lightning eMotors, Tim Reeser. "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."
Under Level 2 operation, certain functions are automated – such as lane-keeping, adaptive cruise control and collision avoidance – but a human driver has ultimate control of a vehicle.
Level 4 vehicles can have a human in the driving seat, but the vehicle can also operate fine without one in geo-fenced zones such as "college campuses, downtown business districts, vacation resorts and for large logistics yards."
The first Lightning vehicle retrofitted with Perrone autonomous tech to roll into service is an electric shuttle purchased by non-profit PIDC, a public/private economic development corporation found by the City of Philadelphia and the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. The self-driving shuttle is expected to ferry visitors and employees around the 1,200-acre (485.6-ha) Philadelphia Naval Yard development.
Lightning says that all of its electric cargo and passenger vehicles can be had with Perrone's TONY AV system installed, and will be fully certified by transport authorities, local transit agencies and so on. Discussions with other potential buyers for autonomous electric vehicles are currently underway.
Source: Lightning eMotors