Federal funding tops $1 million for FR8Relay

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 484 views 

From left are Deme Yuan, chief operating officer of FR8Relay, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Aayush Thakur, CEO of FR8Relay. The Bentonville logistics technology startup has received more than $1 million in federal grants this year.

Bentonville-based logistics technology company FR8Relay has garnered more than $1.11 million in federal grants this year, including the most recent one from the National Science Foundation.

In September, FR8Relay announced it will use the $255,983 grant to evaluate the use of machine learning tools to improve relay matching for trucks. The grant from the National Science Foundation is part of its Small Business Innovation Grant (SBIR) Phase I program.

The grant project is centered on FR8Relay’s technology that pools shipments and matches trucks and drivers with trailers and cargo in a relay model, allowing equipment and freight to keep moving while drivers return home daily. The technology, which would change long-haul trucking from a point-to-point to a relay model, is expected to increase efficiency, reduce emissions and improve the quality of life for drivers in long-haul trucking.

Aayush Thakur, CEO of FR8Relay, said the work in this grant project is focused on developing predictive tools for mitigating disruptions in high-frequency load, truck and driver matching. The company looks to create machine learning tools to identify and address the disruptions.

The grant project started in mid-September and is estimated to be completed by Aug. 31, 2023. This phase of the project includes using data to assess the feasibility for developing the predictive tools. FR8Relay will use operational data from trucking companies, public data sources and equipment data.

If the company is awarded a grant for the second phase, it would entail developing the tools.

The company is looking to hire one full-time data scientist and one full-stack developer for the project. FR8Relay has three full-time and two part-time employees.

In August, FR8Relay received $649,998 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of the agency’s SBIR Phase II program. In May, the company received a $206,468 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of its SBIR Phase I program.