Source: Times Free Press | Mike Pare | August 24, 2017
Facility seeking funds for project, more collaborations with EPB, businesses.
“We see ORNL as not just a national lab … but as a regional force.” — Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director, Dr. Thomas Zacharia
Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s new director said Wednesday the lab is considering testing in Chattanooga related to autonomous driving and long-haul trucking.
Also, lab chief Dr. Thomas Zacharia said during a visit to the city’s Innovation District that a Chattanooga office set up last year “absolutely” will remain in place as the lab tries to forge new partnerships with EPB, businesses and others.
“We see ORNL as not just a national lab but as a regional force,” he said. “We really want to make sure we play that role working with Chattanooga.”
Zacharia, a lab veteran who became its director July 1, said the laboratory is looking for funds to help finance the long-haul trucking testing that could take place on a test track already in place off Amnicola Highway.
“One key area we believe autonomy will be a true disruptor is autonomous long-haul driving,” he told a group of business people and others at the Edney Innovation Center.
Chattanooga already is a trucking and logistics hub, sporting two of the nation’s biggest long-hauling trucking companies in Covenant Transportation Group and U.S. Xpress Enterprises.
Also, domestic freight scheduling business Access America grew rapidly in Chattanooga, topping $500 million in sales, before merging first with Coyote Logistics and then United Parcel Service.
And recently, a new ranking of America’s fastest-growing small businesses in Inc. magazine showed Chattanooga is continuing to birth some of the country’s most promising logistics companies.