COAST Autonomous to deploy first self-driving vehicles at rail yard

The Robot Report

PASADENA, Calif. — COAST Autonomous today announced that Harbor Rail Services of California has selected it to deploy self-driving vehicles at the Kinney County Railport in Texas.

This groundbreaking collaboration is the first deployment of self-driving vehicles at a U.S. rail yard, said the companies. Harbor Rail and COAST teams have identified a number of areas where autonomous vehicles can add value, including staff transportation, delivery of supplies and equipment, perimeter security, and lawn mowing.

COAST Autonomous is a software and technology company focused on delivering autonomous vehicle (AV) solutions at appropriate speeds for urban and campus environments. COAST said its mission is to build community by connecting people with mobility solutions that put pedestrians first and give cities back to people.

COAST has developed a full stack of AV software that includes mapping and localization, robotics and artificial intelligence, fleet management and supervision systems. Partnering with proven manufacturers, COAST said it can provide a variety of vehicles equipped with its software to offer Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) to cities, theme parks, campuses, airports, and other urban environments.

The company said its team has experience and expertise in all aspects of implementing and operating AV fleets while prioritizing safety and the user experience. Last year, the company conducted a demonstration in New York’s Times Square.

Harbor Rail operates railcar repair facilities across the U.S., including the Kinney County Railport (KCRP), a state-of-the-art railcar repair facility that Harbor Rail operates near the U.S.-Mexico border. KCRP is located on 470 acres of property owned by Union Pacific, the largest railroad in North America. The facility prepares railcars to meet food-grade guidelines, so they are ready to be loaded with packaged beer in Mexico and return to the U.S. with product for distribution.

COAST completes mapping, ready to begin service

COAST has completed 3D mapping of the facility, a first step in any such deployment, and the first self-driving vehicle is expected to begin service at KCRP next month.

“Through the introduction of re-designed trucks, innovative process improvements and adoption of data-driven KPIs [key performance indicators], Harbor Rail successfully reduced railcar rejections rates from 30% to 0.03% in KCRP’s first year of operations,” said Mark Myronowicz, president of Harbor Rail. “However, I am always looking for ways to improve our performance and provide an even better service for our customers.”

COAST Autonomous to deploy first self-driving vehicles at rail yard

Source: COAST Autonomous

“At a large facility like KCRP, we have many functions that I am convinced can be carried out by COAST vehicles,” Myronowicz said. “This will free up additional labor to work on railcars, make us even more efficient, help keep the facility safe at night, and even cut the grass when most of us are asleep. This is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate Harbor Rail’s commitment to being at the forefront of innovation and customer service.”

“This is an exciting moment for COAST, and we are looking forward to working with Harbor Rail’s industry-leading team,” said David M. Hickey, chairman and CEO of COAST Autonomous. “KCRP is exactly the type of facility that will show how self-driving technology can improve efficiency and cut costs.”

“While the futuristic vision of driverless cars has grabbed most of the headlines, COAST’s team has been focused on useful mobility solutions that can actually be deployed and create tremendous value for private sites, campuses, and urban centers,” he said. “Just as railroads are often the unsung heroes of the logistics industry, COAST’s vehicles will happily go about their jobs unnoticed and quietly change the world.”

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