Project Meteor is a remotely operated Peterbilt 579 semi-truck. The project was started in house in response to industry feedback from drivers and companies and their growing set of market challenges. Our main goal for Project Meteor is to improve the lives of thousands of truck drivers across the country by keeping them local and at home with their families. Businesses also benefit by being able to run their trucks non-stop to meet tighter delivery schedules and access a new talent pool of remote operators. Present day autonomous vehicle technologies are used in conjunction with remote operation to assist the remote driver and take control in emergency situations, loss of signal events or during driver changeover. It is our belief that pure autonomous technologies are still far away and have yet to be tested in all possible environmental and operational situations.
The Problem: Almost 71% of all freight in America is moved by trucks. 10.5 billion tons of freight is moved annually using 3.6 million trucks, 3.5 million drivers and 39 billion gallons of diesel. A driver shortage problem is putting pressure on this massive industry. Finding and retaining professional drivers is very challenging and a widespread industry problem at the moment. The solitary, sedentary and tedious job of holding a wheel for extended periods of time is arguably not the best use of human potential. The transportation industry is desperate to find efficiencies to either pay their drivers more or find alternative means of getting freight delivered.
The Approach: Sigma believes that technology should not be used to replace the driver but to attract the driver to a new and exciting profession. Fully autonomous vehicles are still 20-30 years away according to the opinions of some MIT scholars. However, there is a large opportunity to capitalization on this transition right now. The intermediate solution is remote operation with the assistance of present day autonomous systems. Remote operation has the ability to create a new and exciting profession of remote operators. It retains, attracts and incentives drivers and allows businesses to do more with less capital investment and with happier employees. Connectedness is critical part of this new business model and there are many hidden challenges in optimizing systems for true low latency real-time operation.
Sigma Integrale, LLC: Sigma is specialized research and development organization and has created multiple vehicle related projects for large automotive suppliers over the years. To date, Sigma has built dozens of full motion vehicle simulators, specialty motion platforms and software projects. Through these projects, Sigma has built strong relationships with various automotive companies, its subsidiaries and partners. More recently, Sigma has created the world’s first mobile full motion class 8 semi-truck simulator (2017). The truck was then later converted to a full motion remotely operated truck running via bonded cellular T-Mobile 4G network connection with initial trials and testing in early 2018.