Lightning eMotors, a leading provider of zero-emission medium-duty commercial vehicles and electric vehicle technology for fleets, and Perrone Robotics have partnered to offer Class 3 – 7 commercial fleet customers self-driving, electric fleet vehicles that can be deployed for a wide range of dedicated uses.

The partnership expands Lightning’s zero-emissions EV platform offerings to include Perrone’s AV-powered technology, TONY®, a vehicle-independent retrofit kit designed to enable vehicles to transport people and goods in geo-fenced and dedicated driving routes. Vehicles equipped with Perrone’s self-driving technology embedded into Lightning’s vehicles for both cargo and passenger uses can be ordered immediately.

PIDC, Philadelphia’s public-private economic development corporation, is the first Lightning eMotors customer to purchase a self-driving, all-electric shuttle powered by Perrone’s TONY AV kit. Pennsylvania’s first 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.

Perrone is a leading provider of AV technology and turnkey vehicle solutions. The company holds a Pioneer Patent for its “MAX” general purpose robotics operating system, which is the backbone of its TONY solution. Together with MAX, TONY is one of the most flexible and adaptable AV solutions available in the current market. Perrone’s AV retrofit kit can be integrated into new vehicles and can also be integrated into existing, repowered vehicles.

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 geo-fenced 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.

Level 2 autonomous vehicles are also seeing rising demand, especially for transit vehicle operators, who can benefit from the state-of-the-art safety features, including lane-keeping capability, adaptive cruise control and forward collision avoidance. All of these features are now available among Lightning’s platform offerings and will be powered by lidar technology, fused with radar to add an additional layer of redundancy that’s important for all Lightning applications.