Lightning eMotors and Perrone Robotics partner to produce fully autonomous zero-emission vehicles

Lightning eMotors, described as a leading provider of zero-emission medium-duty commercial vehicles, has partnered with Perrone Robotics, a provider of fully autonomous vehicle systems.

The partnership will see the companies work together to produce self-driving, electric fleet vehicles. Lightning eMotors’ zero-emissions electric vehicle platform will be expanded to include technology from Perrone Robotics. Specifically, Perrone’s vehicle-independent retrofit kit named Tony will be implemented.

The autonomous vehicle powered technology is designed to allow drivers to transport people and goods within geo-fenced and dedicated driving. Lightning’s vehicles for both cargo and passenger uses that feature Perrone’s self-driving technology are already available to order.

Delivering autonomous capabilities to customers

Lightning eMotors CEO Tim Reeser discussed the new partnership in a statement. “We were looking for partners who could deliver autonomous capabilities to our customers today, and in the future — and that’s what Perrone offers”, he said.

“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”.

The first customer to purchase an autonomous Lightning vehicle with Perrone’s technology is PIDC, Philadelphia’s public-private economic development corporation. The autonomous shuttle will be used in the city of Pennsylvania, specifically within the Philadelphia Navy Yard, where visitors and employees can use the vehicle in the 1,200 acre location. Lightning eMotors and Perrone Robotics are also actively pursuing other potential customers.

The partnership will see Lightning and Perrone work together to produce autonomous fleet vehicles. (Photo: Lightning eMotors)

Perrone finds success with Pioneer Patent and other innovations

A public statement notes Perrone as being a “leading provider of AV technology and turnkey vehicle solutions”. The company holds a Pioneer Patent for its purpose robotics operating system named Max. This technology serves as the “backbone” for Perrone’s Tony solution, and both Max and Tony have been lauded for being flexible and adaptable solutions for autonomous vehicles.

The retrokit can apparently be implemented into new vehicles, as well as existing, re-powered ones. Perrone Robotics CEO Paul Perrone commented on this in a public statement: “A lot of electric vehicle manufacturers are focused on just one vehicle size, and in many cases it’s a bespoke custom platform”.

“But that’s not how we operate at Perrone – our partnership with Lightning is an example of how we want to make a bigger impact. Lightning’s wide range of vehicles is aligned perfectly with the way we want to help foster the widespread adoption of self-driving technology”.

Two product categories for new autonomous technology

Lightning eMotors will integrate technology from Perrone into two product categories, Level 4 and Level 2 applications. Level 4 vehicles have dedicated routes like college campuses for example, and currently can only function in geo-fences areas. That said, there is a rising demand for this product category especially in destinations such as campuses, as well resorts, downtown business districts and logistics yards. There is also demand for autonomous vehicle solutions from other organisations and municipalities.

Meanwhile, Level 2 applications refer to commercial vehicles seeking visual and safety features. Level 2 autonomous vehicles are reportedly experiencing a rising demand, specifically for transit vehicle operators who can benefit from features such as lane-keeping capability, adaptive cruise control and forward collision avoidance. Now, these features make up Lightning eMotors platform offerings.

“Our customers are telling us they want this technology and now we can deliver it. These vehicles are ideal for college campuses, downtown business districts, vacation resorts and for large logistics yards”, said Lightning CEO Tim Reeser. “And, thanks to our partnership with Perrone, we stand alone as the only all-electric commercial vehicle provider that can offer Class 3 – 7 medium-duty vehicles that are fully autonomous”.


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