Strengthening Association-Industry-Academic Ties to Foster Innovation that Helps Everyone Recorded

As technologists literally reach for the stars with amazing new technologies, it is important that the fruits of their exciting breakthrough developments are available for everyone. At the same time, will developments reach their full potential, if only a select group makes the decisions for the rest of us? How can professional associations, academics, and industry work together to ensure the most good can be done for the greatest benefit possible?

Reaching across disciplines will be critical, as well as reaching out to the various communities impacted by new technologies. These are some of the questions addressed in this interactive ViodiTV real-time conversation with the cofounders of Locomation, a company that is bringing automation to the trucking industry, and Tom Coughlin, past IEEE-USA president, current IEEE President-Elect candidate, and storage expert and consultant.

[Check out this CES2019 ViodiTV interview with Locomation when it first publically announced its plans. Another good reference is this recent Freighways article which examines Locomation’s business model and compares and contrasts it to others trying to automate the trucking industry.]

Interview Highlights:

  • 02:00 – Ken Pyle endorses Tom Coughlin for IEEE President-Elect 2022 02:47 – Tom Coughlin talks about the grassroots nature of the organizations that formed the IEEE. The loss of members since the turn of the century. Strengthening the ties to industry and working with the Future Directions Committee is an example of the kind of connection that could move IEEE forward.
  • 4:50 – Cetin provides an overview of Locomation, its business model, and its efforts to add automation to movement. Cetin and Tekin Mericli, two of the co-founders of Locomation, were professors at Carnegie Melon. He compares the second truck in their two-truck platoon as a “duckling.”
  • 09:30 – They have firm purchase orders, which Tekin says are the first in the industry with purchase orders. Orders are expected to ship in the 2nd half of 2022. 11:00 – The discussion leads to the question of regulatory requirements.
  • 12:35 – One of the attractions of robotics for Tekin and Cetin is that robotics is naturally a multidiscipline activity. This is increasingly important as technologies cross paths.
  • 14:38 – The human factors of technology, particularly around person-machine interaction, are a big part of Locomation’s development efforts. This manifests itself by creating hardware and software that augments a human’s driving abilities giving them superhuman reaction times, for instance. 1
  • 7:28 – Tom points out that communication to drivers beyond the trucks is another challenge.
  • 19:18 – The distance between the two trucks in the two-truck platoon will vary depending upon a number of factors, such as the grade of the highway, road conditions, and speed. Cetin points out that they have a fairly tight operational design domain (where/when it can operate). The goal is to get to 22 hours of operation per day.
  • 23:57 – To be clear, there are still drivers in each truck. Surface street driving is still manual, while on the Interstate, the driver in the following truck can take a rest.
  • 25:39 – Cetin explains that the electronic tether allows coordinated acceleration and deceleration.
  • 27:00 – There is redundancy between components where it improves reliability.
  • 29:10 – The signal is encrypted. They haven’t committed to a particular technology for Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communications. Cetin suggests the FCC’s reassignment of 45 MHz of the DSRC will not impact their V2V plans.
  • 30:56 – This isn’t their first exposure as a start-up, but this is the furthest they have gone in creating
  • 32:15 – Wilson Logistics and PGT trucking are two of their publicly announced companies to have committed to Locomation. They are both fast-growing companies. The business case is that Locomation allows operators to go twice as much as cargo, twice as far, and twice as fast while reducing the per-mile operating costs by 30%. The potential is to quadruple their margins 34:38 – This potentially opens new markets to trucking operations, such as, eventually, thin-rail routes.
  • 35:28 – There are close to 4 M trucks and Cetin says if they are doing their job, they will be at 1% market share in the next five years. They are working with Rush Enterprises to maintain and operate.
  • 37:18 – The two-truck solution avoids many challenges, such as the impact on physical infrastructure.
  • 39:18 – Tom Coughlin points out that training multidisciplinary skills is more important than ever. Cetin points that this is something that the academic world needs to improve.
  • 41:28 – Cetin pledges his support to Tom and his campaign for IEEE President-Elect.
  • 41:51 – Reminder of the IEEE-CNSV celebration of Larry Nagel inventor of the SPICE simulation program that saved engineers countless hours iterating designs. 
  • 42:06 – Ken promotes the upcoming Smart Driving Car Summit in Princeton, which is slated for November 16 (evening) through 18, 2021, to be held in Trenton New Jersey.

[Disclosure: Ken Pyle of Viodi has been volunteering on Tom’s campaign for IEEE President-Elect 2022. Coughlin’s comments in his Town Hall meetings about the importance of IEEE-Industry relations were the inspiration for this conversation.]