Lightning eMotors and Perrone Robotics have partnered to offer Class 3-7 commercial fleet customers autonomous, electric fleet vehicles that can be deployed for a wide range of dedicated uses.
The partnership expands Lightning’s zero-emissions EV platform offerings to include Perrone’s AV-powered technology, TONY, a vehicle-independent retrofit kit designed to enable vehicles to transport people and goods in geo-fenced and dedicated driving routes. The companies say vehicles equipped with Perrone’s self-driving technology embedded into Lightning’s vehicles for both cargo and passenger uses can be ordered immediately.
“We were looking for partners who could deliver autonomous capabilities to our customers today, and in the future — and that’s what Perrone offers,” says Lightning eMotors CEO 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.”
PIDC, Philadelphia's public-private economic development corporation, is the first Lightning eMotors customer to purchase a self-driving, all-electric shuttle powered by Perrone’s TONY AV kit. Pennsylvania's first AV shuttle will provide transportation services to visitors and employees within the Philadelphia Navy Yard, a 1,200-acre dynamic, urban development centrally located in the popular waterfront business campus. Lightning and Perrone are in active discussions with a number of other potential customers as well.
Perrone is a leading provider of AV technology and turnkey vehicle solutions. The company holds a Pioneer Patent for its “MAX” general purpose robotics operating system, which is the backbone of its TONY solution. Together with MAX, TONY is one of the most flexible and adaptable AV solutions available in the current market. Perrone’s AV retrofit kit can be integrated into new vehicles and can also be integrated into existing, repowered vehicles, the company says.
“A lot of electric vehicle manufacturers are focused on just one vehicle size, and in many cases it’s a bespoke custom platform,” says Perrone Robotics Founder and CEO Paul Perrone. “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.”
Initially, Lightning says it will deploy Perrone’s technology into two product categories, including fully autonomous Level 4 application environments with dedicated routes such as college campuses, and Level 2 applications for high-end visual and safety features for commercial vehicles. Currently, Level 4 vehicles can only operate in geo-fenced areas, but demand for this use is rising as campuses, logistics yards, downtown business districts, resorts, and other organizations and municipalities seek EV/AV solutions.
Level 2 autonomous vehicles are also seeing rising demand, especially for transit vehicle operators, who can benefit from the state-of-the-art safety features, including lane-keeping capability, adaptive cruise control and forward collision avoidance. The company says all of these features are now available among Lightning’s platform offerings and will be powered by lidar technology, fused with radar to add an additional layer of redundancy that’s important for all Lightning applications.
“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,” Reeser says. “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 and are certified by the departments of transportation, local transit agencies and other commercial organizations.”