Lightning eMotors from Colorado adds Level 2 and Level 4 autonomous capabilities to electric midsize commercial vehicles thanks to a partnership with Perrone Robotics of Virginia and has already announced its first customer.
Perrone’s stand-alone technology is available as a vehicle retrofit kit, including an on-board computer running its own operating software, a set of LiDAR sensors, radar, cameras, GPS, ultrasonic sensors and so on, wired drive adapters and monitoring platform.
Lightning plans to install Perron’s TONY AV technology in its Class 3 to 7 fleet vehicles to initially operate at Level 2 and Level 4 autonomy.
“We were looking for partners who could provide autonomous capabilities to our customers today and in the future – and that’s what Perrone offers,” said Tim Reeser, CEO of Lightning eMotors. “We offer perhaps the widest range of electric commercial vehicles in North America and now have a stand-alone vehicle solution for our products, ranging from ambulances to campus shuttles and other commercial applications.
In Level 2 operation, certain functions are automated – such as lane keeping, adaptive cruise control and collision avoidance – but the driver has full control of the vehicle.
Level 4 vehicles can have a person in the driver’s seat, but the vehicle can work well without one in geo-fenced areas such as “colleges, downtown business districts, holiday resorts and large logistics yards”.
The first Lightning vehicle to be upgraded with autonomous Perrone technology to enter service was the electric shuttle purchased by the non-profit PIDC, a public / private economic development corporation opened by the city of Philadelphia and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. The self-driving shuttle is expected to transport visitors and employees to about 1,200 acres (485.6 hectares) of a Philadelphia naval ship.
Lightning says all its electric freight and passenger vehicles can be used with Perrone’s TONY AV system installed and will be fully certified by transport authorities, local transit agencies and so on. Discussions are currently underway with other potential buyers of autonomous electric vehicles.
Source: Lightning eMotors