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Carnak - Autonomous Vehicle Navigation

Our software allows autonomous truck fleets, which are an important solution of the supply chain, to safely navigate around road hazards.

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We are facing a food distribution crisis. We have stockpiles of rotting food at farms and in warehouses, and no ability to transport it to hungry people - whether they have money to buy the food or not. COVID-19 caused the entire freight industry to shift to food transportation, since there is a dramatically reduced demand for transport of automotive parts or other big money consumer items. The abrupt closure of businesses where food is consumed has caused a disruption in an already volatile trucking and logistics industry, and a sharp cliff is expected after the demand from food hoarding ends. 

The most vulnerable piece in the food supply chain is the truck driver. There was already a shortage of qualified truck drivers. Now truck driving has become a very difficult, high risk, and even painful job. Truck drivers can no longer stop at their favorite places - they have to plan their whole routes around places that allow them to rest, use the bathroom, shower, and eat. Office-bound trucking company employees are now working from home, which adds additional challenges in routing.

The drivers are older, of generally poor health, don't have the best diet or sleep patterns, and travel constantly, which puts them in a very high risk group for contracting the virus. Also, if they get sick on the road, most drivers have no idea what they will do, which causes them additional anxiety. The job has become unprofitable, as loads of food are taken into many areas where the truck must "dead head" back out, meaning the trucker and owner of the truck lose a lot of money driving an empty truck to the pickup location of the next load. Some truckers are told that they can't have a helper for loading and unloading, because the helper is not allowed to go onto the loading dock.  All in all, being a trucker has become a terrible job, yet 80% of the goods we receive are brought to our regions by trucks. There needs to be a solution for reducing the number of drivers needed.

Such a solution was done in driverless fleet pilot programs - we know of one in Colorado, and another in Florida. In these programs, a driverless fleet was used - which in reality is a fleet of trucks with a driver in only the first and last truck. This could reduce the number of drivers needed by about half. For a driverless fleet, official communication is critical to make sure that the authorities have a say in how it operates. This is especially important in construction zones due to worker safety and higher chance of accidents. Carnak can solve this issue by providing a layer of authority to autonomous fleets that will help them to anticipate roadway assets in construction areas. Using Carnak as part of the traffic engineers' workflow, assets are documented and communicated to autonomous fleets roaming the area. This approach could speed the adoption of autonomous fleets and relieve the driver shortage. Adoption of autonomous fleets has the potential to smooth out our food supply chain and open up new ways for truck owners and operators to make money.

In order to pursue this, we need to find a partnership with a company or group that is testing autonomous fleets.

Here is an article by Karen Kilroy about the shortage of truckers and autonomous fleets:

What is the need are you focusing on?

Truck drivers are being laid off in droves as trucking companies close, but the fleets that still continue to operate need for their drivers to stay safe, both while driving and when they've stopped to rest.  The max driving time per day has an 11 hour limit, so companies need to make the most of the time on the road, and using autonomous caravans is the answer. In addition, last-mile driving can be automated by using self-driving delivery vans to alleviate the shortage of labor or even in areas that are under quarantine.

Which type of submission are you sharing?

  • Identifying a gap that needs to be addressed
  • Sharing an actual pivot your organization has already made

Describe the business pivot or adaptation in 3-4 sentences.

The software adaptation for autonomous fleets will start with adding existing roadway assets from local or state transportation agencies. In addition, we will upload modifications of traffic (MOTs) from construction zones in real-time, as they become available. The data from both sources, which has been saved in a blockchain to make it verifiable and auditable, is transmitted to the autonomous vehicle (truck or van), and anonymously cross-checked with other autonomous vehicles in the area. The owner of the autonomous vehicle pays for the data based directly on roadway usage (pay-as-you-go).

Do you plan to implement this solution?

  • I plan to share with an implementing organization

Describe the impact that this solution will create in the world.

If proven out, it will lead to more accurate, reliable autonomous vehicles, prompting wider adoption by trucking companies in the supply chain down to last-mile home delivery. More autonomous vehicles will lead to less accidents, since driver distraction is the leading cause of accidents on all roadways. This will positively affect everyone, truck drivers first. Adoption can happen over the next 12 to 18 months, and the impact will be immediate in terms of accident reduction.

What is the name of your business or organization?

Kilroy Blockchain

What does your business/company do? Whose needs does your business/company address? Who do you serve?

We create software solutions that use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain. Our mission is the leave the world in a better place than we found it. We serve three areas: the blind and visually impaired and those who serve them; the automotive industry; and any industry vertical that can benefit from the addition blockchain to their business processes.

What is your profession?

Chief Information Officer

Where are you located (country)?

United States

Where are you located (region)?

  • North America

What industry is your business/company in?

  • Technology

How many people does your business/company employ?

  • 0-10

How old is your business/company?

  • 2-5 years old

Which classification describes your organization/business?

  • Business

What kind of stakeholders and partnerships are needed to pursue this solution?

  • Funding- Investment
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Private Sector
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Government

Do you need help building partnerships and finding partners?

  • Yes

If Yes to the above, please share 1-2 sentences describing the specific help you desire.

We're open to partnering with companies on the trucking industry portion of the supply chain interested in using an app to assist autonomous truck fleets navigate safely around road construction hazards. Our first goal is to test our app in a simulator, and then on a live test track, such as Mcity in Ann Arbor, MI.

What do you think are the main barriers to implementing this solution?

There are few autonomous truck companies, so we have a very small audience, and we are the only solution that uses blockchain to ensure that the local government has authority of the road.

If you are currently working on a pivot, what have you learned so far?

That our business model is forward-thinking and it's been difficult finding a company who is likewise forward-thinking enough to partner with us.

Are you aware of any open source efforts, hackathons or other collaborative efforts related to your solution? Are you participating in these efforts?

No, and no.

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