Lightning eMotors, a provider of zero-emission medium-duty commercial vehicles and electric vehicle technology in the US market, and Perrone Robotics have partnered to offer Class 3-7 commercial fleet customers self-driving, electric fleet vehicles.
The partnership expands Lightning’s EV platform offerings to include Perrone’s autonomous technology, Tony, which is a vehicle-independent retrofit kit designed to enable vehicles to transport people and goods in geo-fenced and dedicated driving routes.
“We were looking for partners who could deliver autonomous capabilities to our customers today, and in the future — and that’s what Perrone offers,” said 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, became the first Lightning eMotors customer to purchase a self-driving, all-electric shuttle powered by Perrone’s kit. The 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.
“A lot of electric vehicle manufacturers are focused on just one vehicle size, and in many cases it’s a bespoke custom platform,” added 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 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 geofenced 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.
“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 concluded. “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.”