Bentonville-based logistics technology company FR8relay will receive a nearly $650,000 federal grant to complete a pilot project for its relay trucking model, according to a Sunday (Aug. 21) news release.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will give $649,998 to FR8relay as part of the federal agency’s Small Business Innovation Grant Phase II program. The grant is expected to help the company implement its patented trucking technology to spur economic development in rural and tribal areas throughout the United States.
“We’re honored to receive this second grant award from the Department of Agriculture,” said FR8relay CEO Aayush Thakur. “It provides us the opportunity to further establish traction as we commercialize our novel technology.”
In the USDA Phase II project, FR8relay is expected “to prove the practical feasibility of relay trucking in the real-world context of American logistics. Primary objectives for this research and development effort include the completion of a relay software beta product, the coordination of pilot partners domiciled in the ‘relay exchange node’ communities, and rigorous monitoring and evaluation throughout pilot implementation with reports back to participants and other stakeholders.”
FR8relay’s technology is expected to improve the quality of life for existing rural truck drivers by changing the long-haul trucking model from a point-to-point model to a relay model. This would allow long-haul drivers the opportunity to return home daily.
Also, the relay model would include placing relay nodes in rural communities, leading to the creation of new jobs, including relay nodal operators, truck drivers, mechanics, food and service industry, and new revenue sources, such as truck parking and alternative energy infrastructure.
In 2021, FR8relay received a USDA Phase 1 award to evaluate the potential impacts of their relay technology to address trucking industry problems and create economic development opportunities in rural and tribal areas along major trucking corridors. Researchers used mathematical simulations and real-world data from trucking companies to “demonstrate significant benefits to all stakeholders,” according to the release.
Thakur noted that FR8relay’s initial outreach to rural communities “received very enthusiastic response. Leaders from the towns and cities we approached expressed great interest in the potential of our technology to benefit their communities and have graciously offered to support our efforts.”
In May, FR8relay received a $206,468 grant from the Department of Energy to support innovation in clean energy development and climate solutions. Also, Thakur recently was named to the Forbes Business Council, a growth and networking organization for successful business owners and leaders worldwide.