Rail Industry: On the Rails of Economic Growth - The Road to Autonomy

Rail Industry: On the Rails of Economic Growth

Matt Soule, CEO and Co-Founder, Parallel Systems joined Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy podcast to discuss how Parallel Systems will act as an economic growth engine for the rail industry.

The conversation begins with Matt discussing how Parallel Systems business has evolved since he last joined Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy roughly year ago. During this time, Parallel has been testing their Gen2 vehicle in the United States and has deployed a Gen1 vehicle overseas.

As they gear up to deploy their Gen2 vehicle, the company is preparing up to test railworthiness at the Transportation Technology Center (TTC) in Pueblo, Colorado.

We will run our vehicle through a series of tests there, to most importantly validate the models that we have already built up to predict how the vehicle will perform.

– Matt Soule

When Parallel begins to commercialize their business, they are going to compliment the traditional rail business by offering the rail industry a solution to expand their freight operations inside of the traditional 500 mile routes.

With Parallel’s smaller scale we can serve freight lanes that do not require massive volumes to have that daily arrival and departure. That’s the core of our strategy.

– Matt Soule

A pillar of this strategy is replacing trucks on drayage routes. A large opportunity is moving freight on rail from the Ports of Los Angeles, San Pedro and Long Beach to the Inland Empire, one of the largest industrial complexes in the United States with over 4,000 warehouses.

Parallel’s autonomous and electric vehicles will have a range of roughly 500 miles between charges. The vehicles will be operating in a platoon of 20 and will charge while they are being unloaded and loaded at the terminal.

When we go into a terminal, we will have charging nests kind of like a robotic vacuum cleaner going to it’s charging dock alongside the rail and the vehicles will go to those locations and automatically dock with the chargers, and while they are charging the freight is unloaded and loaded.

– Matt Soule

The next version of the vehicle (Gen3) will be the commercial product that drives up reliability and drives down cost. Looking towards the future when Parallel is operating a commercial business, Matt sees autonomous trucks complimenting the business.

The economics get better and better and better the more productive that asset is. So I think that is where there can be a real compliment, where a self-driving truck can handle the complex first and last mile if there is a service that does not require us to go directly to that customer.

– Matt Soule

With the current economic backdrop of a slowing global economy, Matt is preparing the business to take advantage of the emerging autonomy economy that will arise out of the economic situation partly due to the global labor shortage.

Wrapping up the conversation, Matt shares his outlook for the future of Parallel Systems.

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Recorded on Tuesday, October 17, 2023