BRYAN A partnership with a Bryan company and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute has resulted in a new way to move freight in congested areas.
Freight Shuttle International, led by Steven Roop, PhD, has created a vehicle known as the Freight Shuttle.
"The freight shuttle vehicle is an autonomous vehicle with no on-board driver controlled by a central command and control facility and it operates on a fixed elevated guide way," Roop said.
Initial research on the project began in 2005. After nearly a dozen years of work, a vehicle nearly 70 feet tall and capable of hauling a full size tractor trailer was the end result.
The vehicle uses a combination of elements from railroad and trucking and implements steel wheels to reduce the rolling resistance and enable a highly energy efficient system.
"Its designed to operate in those locations where trucking can no longer operate profitably. So its not an eliminate trucks strategy, it’s a to relocate trucks to where they can operate more profitably with less congestion," Roop said.
The Port of Houston will be the first commercial customer for the Freight Shuttle. The port wants to use the vehicles to transport shipping containers to different parts of their facility. Currently, that job is handled by trucks, causing congestion and delays.
The Freight Shuttle is also inexpensive to operate, costing only 10 cents per mile, compared to sixty cents per mile for a conventional diesel truck.
In addition to seaports, Roop hopes to see the vehicle used at overland ports such as border crossings, and eventually, over congested interstate highways.
"The freight shuttle system is positioned to provide benefits to a wide array of stake holders both public and private," Roop said. "You have safety benefits, you have a reduction in noise, you have a reduction in pavement damage and you eliminate trucks from the highway.