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Peloton Technology (“Peloton”), a connected and automated vehicle startup that’s setting out to improve the safety and efficiency of freight transportation, has closed a $60 million Series B funding round led by fleet management giant Omnitracs, which spun out of Qualcomm a few years back. The round included participation from a handful of notable names, including Intel Capital, Nokia Growth Partners, Volvo Group, BP Ventures, Lockheed Martin, and UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund.
Founded out of Mountain View, California in 2011, Peloton’s platooning platform is designed to help fleets of trucks address what it says are three of the industry’s major challenges: safety, fuel consumption, and operational efficiency. Platooning, for the uninitiated, is when trucks drive in close proximity at a constant speed, which helps lower fuel consumption and emissions.
Trucks within Peloton’s system connect using direct vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, which allows the rear truck to react automatically to the actions of the front truck — if it has to brake or slow down suddenly, for example. So, in effect, the trucks brake and accelerate in tandem, allowing them to operate more safely at closer distances. Peloton’s “driver-assistive” system links the safety systems of paired trucks with a cloud-based network that limits platooning to appropriate roads and conditions.
Peloton had previously raised around $18 million, and its fresh cash injection will be used to expedite growth, the rollout of its platooning system in 2017, and the “development of more advanced automation solutions,” according to a company statement.
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The company is currently working to integrate its smarts with a number of truck manufacturers, including Volvo in North America, which partly explains Volvo’s involvement in this latest funding round. Lead investor Omnitracs is also looking to integrate Peloton into its own platform.
“The transportation industry is going through a massive change,” said Omnitracs CEO John Graham. “Macro-level trends like the Internet of Things, cognitive applications, faster delivery of goods and new levels of customer service are at the core of our new partnership with Peloton. We want to expand the possibilities of truck automation on the nation’s highways and set new standards in integrated dispatch, tracking, and routing, as well as driver-facing applications, to maximize and optimize the orchestration of both same-fleet and cross-fleet platooning.”
Intel’s involvement, via its venture capital arm, is also notable. Just last month, Intel revealed plans to pay $15.3 billion for Mobileye, a computer vision firm specializing in autonomous cars.
A number of other startups are working to improve long-distance road freight logistics. Swedish company Einride recently unveiled T-pod, an autonomous electric truck that can also be controlled remotely. This was shortly after Embark launched its self-driving truck tech to ease driver fatigue on long highways.
“Making cars and trucks safer and more efficient, with increasing levels of active safety equipment, is critically important to the global economy,” said Kathy Winter, vice president of Intel’s automated driving division. “Advanced driver assistance solutions such as Peloton’s, that are based on scalable, secure computing platforms, are a key element on the path to fully autonomous driving.”
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