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Lightning eMotors and Perrone Robotics have joined forces to offer customers fully autonomous electric commercial vehicles.

Lightning eMotors, which develops a range of commercial vehicles, will now offer Class 3-7 fleet customers self-driving electric vehicles that can be deployed right away.

The partnership uses Perrone’s AV-powered technology, TONY, a vehicle-independent retrofit kit designed to deliver people and goods in geofenced areas and along dedicated driving roots.

Lightning eMotor vehicles equipped with Perrone’s tech 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,” Lightning eMotors CEO Tim Reeser said.

“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 customer to purchase one of the newly equipped vehicles. The corporation plans to use it to provide transportation for visitors and employees within the 1,200-acre Philadelphia Navy Yard, an urban development located on the waterfront business campus.

Lightning and Perrone say that they are in “active discussions” with a number of 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,” Perrone Robotics, Inc. founder and CEO Paul Perrone said.

“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.”

At present, fully autonomous Level 4 driving in Lightning’s trucks will be available on dedicated routes, such as college campuses. In the US, Level 4 vehicles can only operate in geofenced areas. Level 2 applications will be restricted for high-end visual and safety features such as lane-keeping, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision avoidance.

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