eTruck Manufacturer to Equip Vehicles with Self-Driving Tech

Lightning eMotors is equipping its zero-emission commercial vehicles with Perrone Robotics’ autonomous-vehicle retrofit kits

John Yellig

May 17, 2022

2 Min Read
Image shows a Lightning eMotors truck
Lightning eMotors

Zero-emission truck manufacturer Lightning eMotors is partnering with Perrone Robotics to offer self-driving capabilities on some of its electric fleet vehicles.

Lightning trucks equipped with Perrone’s autonomous-vehicle (AV) technology, TONY, can be ordered now. TONY (TO Navigate You) is a vehicle-independent, turnkey retrofit kit that can be installed on any of the commercial passenger and cargo vehicles Lightning manufactures. TONY is built on Perrone’s patented MAX general-purpose robotics operating system. All trucks will be equipped with Lidar and radar for redundancy, the companies said.

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

Lightning will first deploy Perrone’s AV technology in two categories: Fully autonomous level 4 vehicles and semi-autonomous level 2 vehicles. The level 4 vehicles are currently suited for geofenced environments with dedicated routes, like college campuses, logistics yards, resorts and downtown business districts. Level 2 functionality, like lane-keeping, adaptive cruise control and forward-collision avoidance, can be ordered by commercial customers who desire high-end visual and safety features, such as transit companies.

“Our customers are telling us they want this technology, and now we can deliver it,” Reeser said. “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 and are certified by the departments of transportation, local transit agencies and other commercial organizations.”

Perrone-Lightning AVs are already on the road. Philadelphia’s public-private economic development corporation, PIDC, made the first purchase of one of the vehicles, a self-driving, all-electric shuttle, to provide transportation to visitors and employees of the 1,200-acre Philadelphia Navy Yard. Lightning and Perrone are in active discussions with several other potential customers as well.

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