Breakthrough Fuel invests in Silicon Valley Startup

Breakthrough Fuel, a Green Bay-based company working in transportation energy management, recently made an investment in a Silicon Valley startup.

Peloton Technology, of Mountain View, is working on a “platooning” platform which uses automated vehicle technology to sync two semi-trucks, so that both vehicles’ braking and acceleration happen simultaneously.

The startup says this system has been found to reduce diesel fuel costs by 7 percent by leveraging vehicle-to-vehicle — V2V — communication. This is just one type of autonomous vehicle communication that the American Transportation Research Institute outlined in its 2016 report on the impact of automated vehicles on the trucking industry.

Others include vehicle-to-infrastructure, or V2I, in which the vehicle can communicate with and gain awareness of things like traffic signals and other fixtures. Vehicle-to-pedestrian, or V2P, involves the vehicle communicating directly with pedestrians and bicyclists.

Alongside partner investor U.S. Venture, Breakthrough Fuel took part in a $60 million Series B funding round for Peloton earlier this spring. Craig Dickman, founder and CEO of Breakthrough Fuel, says Peloton’s technology “will bring about plenty of positive change.”

In 2016, Breakthrough Fuel helped clients save more than 6.3 million gallons of fuel and reduce their collective carbon footprint by over 75,000 metric tons of CO2.

“It’s exciting that our company here in Wisconsin has discovered a new way to invest in the future of the industry by connecting and working with another trailblazing organization,” Dickman added.

Peloton’s driver-assisted platooning technology aims to bring down costs for trucking companies, but it also can reduce the risk of accidents, the company says. The system features forward-looking cameras, as well as radar-based collision prevention.

Dickman says “transportation is evolving quickly,” and recent actions on the part of national government agencies and business leaders support that notion.

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a 10-year, nearly $4 billion investment supporting “pilot projects” for developing autonomous vehicle technology.

Uber is also testing autonomous vehicles in certain U.S. cities. And major auto manufacturers like Ford and General Motors are pouring money into automated vehicle research, as well as buying smaller tech companies that support AV development.

–By Alex Moe