CUPERTINO, September 22, 2021
Strategic partnerships boosting efficiencies tied to autonomous trucking technology
This article is part of a VB Lab Insight series paid for by Plus.
“Sustainable transportation is good for business and for humankind.”
Shawn Kerrigan, the COO and co-founder of autonomous truck developer Plus, will not mince words when talking about the environmental benefits of autonomous trucking. He and the rest of the team at Plus see a “safer, more sustainable future through autonomous trucking.”
And it’s gaining traction at the right time. Fueled by health and environmental concerns, policy makers are cracking down on pollutants emitted by medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles. Shippers too, are looking to integrate more efficient vehicles into their fleets, with the goal of cutting fuel costs and meeting increasingly stringent sustainability demands from consumers, investors, and regulators.
Autonomous trucks – and strategic partnerships that leverage their technology – will play an important role in helping the freight industry accomplish these objectives.
Despite significant improvements in vehicle emissions standards over the years, pollution from commercial trucks remains stubbornly high.
Nationwide 29% of all greenhouse gas emissions comes from trucks carrying freight. In California, heavy-duty trucks emit nearly a third of all nitrogen oxide pollution, as well as over a fourth of diesel particulate matter.
As concern over these pollution impacts increases, state and federal regulators are expanding regulatory efforts aimed at slashing trucking tailpipe and greenhouse gas emissions.
California’s Advanced Clean Truck rule will phase out sales of fossil fuel powered trucks by 2045. Fifteen states have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to eliminate freight truck pollution, while President Biden’s ambitious emissions reduction plans also are expected to accelerate the adoption of clean truck models.
As regulations tighten, the autonomous trucking industry is ideally positioned to meet the demand for alternative, more sustainable shipping options.
Driverless vehicles are more efficient than human-powered trucks, slashing fuel expenses and reducing carbon emissions. Plus’s autonomous driving system, PlusDrive, uses Level 4 autonomous driving technology, but a driver remains on board to ensure the system is operating safely.
For example, Plus has shown in its pilot programs that PlusDrive can help fleets save around 10% in fuel costs. This is due to AI-generated algorithms that teach the truck how to control itself in the most fuel-efficient way.
Low-carbon fuels and smart technologies are other force multipliers helping to make autonomous trucking more sustainable. Plus recently announced a strategic collaboration with Goodyear Tire & Rubber to maximize fuel efficiency. The partnership combines Plus’s machine learning-based fuel optimization and Goodyear’s connected tire technology to further improve fuel economy.
“The collaboration between Plus and Goodyear enables us to leverage both companies’ innovative fuel efficiency technologies, and harness these to further improve the performance of autonomous trucks,” says Plus’s Kerrigan.
As the freight industry moves more stuff, and as climate change mitigation measures intensify, pressure to reduce emissions and trucking costs will only increase. Fuel efficient autonomous trucks are win-win, for the environment and the bottom line.
Sustainable shipping leaders are taking advantage of the benefits. Starting this summer Plus will partner with Schmidt Futures-supported Good Machine venture studio on a pilot program to extend both company’s sustainability impacts.
Good Machine projects tackle global problems caused by climate change and marine pollution.
Through a pilot project, trucks automated by Plus’s autonomous driving technology will help move equipment used for Good Machine’s efforts to address wildfires, food insecurity, illicit wildlife poaching, and illegal fishing.
The partnership launches with Plus’s autonomous truck hauling equipment from Winnemucca, Nevada to South San Francisco, California to be used for a wildfire detection project in California.
That pilot will use stratospheric balloon technology to detect fires early and report them to relevant authorities to help reduce catastrophic damage. Over the course of the next year, Plus will move other types of equipment for Good Machine sustainability projects.
The Good Machine and Goodyear collaborations are just two that Plus has engineered with tech leaders to prove environmental solutions are best solved together. Plus’s joint project with Cummins will develop the industry’s first driver-in natural gas-powered autonomous trucks, creating a powerful sustainable transportation solution. The vehicles, to be released into the market in 2022, integrate PlusDrive with Cummins’ natural gas engine. The engine reduces smog-forming emissions by 90% compared to current EPA standards for nitrogen oxide air pollutants.
“Integrating Cummins’ state-of-the-art natural gas-powered engines into Plus’s industry-leading supervised autonomous trucks enables a new kind of transportation solution and offers customers even greater choices to meet their emissions goals,” said J. Michael Taylor, General Manager, Global Powertrain Integration at Cummins.
Plus is also jointly developing a Level 4 autonomous heavy-duty truck using IVECO’s LNG engine system, reducing carbon emissions compared to diesel. Plus’s Kerrigan says the partnership “will enable us to accelerate our commercial deployment and magnify the impact of our autonomous driving technology.”
The idea of a sustainable autonomous truck is arriving sooner than some realize. Trucks powered by diesel and automated by Plus’s Level 4 autonomous driving technology are being delivered to customers already. Additionally, Plus’s partnerships with engine expert Cummins and truck manufacturer IVECO will put PlusDrive-equipped trucks powered by natural gas on the road starting in 2022. These collaborations will further improve the fuel economy of automated semi-trucks.
Pushing the industry forward, Plus allows fleets to tap the benefits now, and not years into the future. Although fully driverless trucks are still years away, Plus’s driver-in autonomous trucks are already on the road, helping fleets realize the fuel efficiency and carbon reduction gains today.
Across the supply chain, retailers, manufacturers and logistics companies are demanding solutions that optimize fuel efficiency and reduce pollution and climate change impacts. With the help of key industry partners, Plus is leading the way for a new era of environmentally sustainable automated trucking.
Plus is a global leader in autonomous driving technology for long-haul trucking, headquartered in Silicon Valley and founded in 2016 by serial entrepreneurs and industry veterans who have extensive experience in high tech and artificial intelligence. Plus is developing low-cost, high-performance full-stack Level 4 autonomous driving technology to make long-haul trucking safer, more efficient, and more sustainable. Plus is also collaborating with leading truck manufacturers, fleets, and ecosystem partners to drive the development of decarbonization transportation solutions including autonomous trucks powered by natural gas. For more information, please visit www.plus.ai or follow us on LinkedIn or YouTube.
On May 7, 2021, PlusAI Corp., Plus Inc. (“New Plus”) and Hennessy Capital Investment Corp. V (NASDAQ: HCIC) (“Hennessy Capital”) entered into a definitive business combination agreement. Upon the closing of the proposed business combination, Plus will be a publicly traded company, and its common stock is expected to trade on the NYSE under the ticker symbol “PLAV”. The proposed business combination has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both Plus and Hennessy Capital. The closing of the proposed business combination is subject to approval by the stockholders of both Plus and Hennessy Capital and the satisfaction of the necessary regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.
This article contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements generally relate to future events or Plus’s future plans, strategy and performance. Such statements include, but are not limited to, environmental regulations, the potential benefits of the Plus’s Good Machine and Goodyear collaborations, the capabilities of Plus’s technology, and the timing for when Plus’s partnerships with Cummins and IVECO will put PlusDrive-equipped trucks powered by natural gas on the road. Such statements are subject to numerous important factors, risks and uncertainties that may cause actual events or results to differ materially, including the success of Plus’s partnership, the ability of Plus to commercialize its autonomous driving system, and delays in the design, production and launch of new products, risks related to the proposed business combination between Plus and Hennessy Capital Investment Corp. V and those more fully described under the section entitled “Risk Factors” in Form F-4 that New Plus will file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These forward-looking statements are made as of the date of this press release, and Plus and Hennessy Capital assume no obligation to update the forward-looking statements, or to update the reasons why actual results could differ from those projected in the forward-looking statements, except as required by law.
As permitted by the Jumpstart our Business Startups Act of 2012 (the “JOBS Act”), and in connection with the proposed business combination, New Plus has confidentially submitted a draft registration statement on Form F-4 (the “Registration Statement”) with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), which includes a prospectus with respect to New Plus’s securities to be issued in connection with the business combination and a proxy statement to be distributed to holders of Hennessy Capital’s common stock in connection with Hennessy Capital’s solicitation of proxies for the vote by Hennessy Capital’s stockholders with respect to the business combination and other matters to be described in the Registration Statement (the “Proxy Statement”). After the Registration Statement has been declared effective by the SEC, Hennessy Capital will file the definitive Proxy Statement with the SEC and will mail copies to stockholders of Hennessy Capital as of a record date to be established for voting on the proposed business combination. Additionally, New Plus and Hennessy Capital will file other relevant materials with the SEC in connection with the business combination. Security holders of Plus, New Plus, and Hennessy Capital are urged to read the Registration Statement and Proxy Statement and the other relevant materials when they become available before making any voting decision with respect to the proposed business combination because they will contain important information about the proposed business combination and the parties thereto. Investors and security holders of Plus, New Plus, and Hennessy Capital may also obtain a copy of the Registration Statement and Proxy Statement, when available, as well as other documents filed with the SEC regarding the proposed business combination by New Plus and Hennessy Capital, without charge, at the SEC’s website located at www.sec.gov. Copies of these filings may be obtained free of charge on Plus’s website at www.plus.ai or by directing a request to Lynn Miller, General Counsel, 20401 Stevens Creek Boulevard, Cupertino, California 95014 or by telephone at (408) 508-4758, and/or on Hennessy Capital’s website at http://www.hennessycapllc.com/ or by directing a request to Nicholas A. Petruska, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, 3415 N. Pines Way, Suite 204, Wilson, Wyoming 83014 or by telephone at (307) 201-1903. The information contained on, or that may be accessed through, the websites referenced in this press release is not incorporated by reference into, and is not a part of, this press release.
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