Oct 24, 2022

FR8relay Awarded $256k from National Science Foundation

FAYETTEVILLE, AR, Oct. 24, 2022 / Startup Junkie / – FR8relay, an Arkansas-based trucking logistics company and participant in the 2020 cohort of the Fuel Accelerator, has just been awarded $255,983 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of its Small Business Innovation Grant (SBIR) Phase I program. 

FR8relay addresses the biggest concerns in the trucking industry: inefficient trucking routes, idling equipment and cargo, and long hours of unpaid labor for truck drivers. These inefficiencies cost more than $4 billion each year in fuel and equipment maintenance and create mentally and physically exhausted drivers that collectively cost more than $8 billion annually, threatening the sustainability of the entire trucking industry. 

The NSF funding will go towards FR8relay’s current project to assess the feasibility of developing a machine learning (ML) based predictive analytics tool to make their technology resilient to disruptions in the driver scheduling and truck route optimization problem. A successful outcome will create resilient relay algorithms necessary to commercialize the first scalable relay trucking operations in the United States. 

While the use of ML has been explored in predicting weather and traffic events in the recent past, no off-the-shelf ML tools are known to exist that can be utilized for this patented relay technology. This project leverages real-world proprietary operational data from large trucking companies, combined with public data sources and artificially populated datasets representing drivers and equipment informed by work with local partners at relay nodes.

Over the past two years, FR8relay has raised almost $1.2 million in non-dilutive funding. The company was previously awarded $650,000 in August from the United States Department of Agriculture as part of its Small Business Innovation Grant (SBIR) Phase II program to improve both the speed of freight trucking and the living/working conditions of truckers by replacing the current long-haul system with a network of “relay nodal centers.” They also received $200,000 in SBIR funding from the Department of Energy in May of 2022. 

“We’ve been awarded 3 very competitive federal grants by 3 different agencies this year (USDA, DOE & NSF), all pointing to the urgency being felt at the federal and state levels to address the myriad of issues around supply chain resiliency in our country. We at FR8relay are grateful for the continued support from federal and state agencies and our local community leaders in Arkansas, and are working hard every day to ensure that we are able to mitigate at least some of the labor related issues today in the trucking industry while reducing costs for manufacturers and end consumers,” said Aayush.