North Vancouver company Go99 aims to make trucking greener with its on-demand app

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      Transportation is the second-largest source of carbon emissions in Canada. As the country experiences freak weather incidents, rising sea levels, and prolonged forest fires, vehicles on the road continue to pump out greenhouse gases at increasing rates. While the bulk of traffic is made up of cars, it’s not just daily commutes that are transforming the climate. The biggest culprit is trucking.

      In Canada alone, nearly 10 per cent of the country’s carbon footprint comes from freight trucks. Speeding goods all over the country, those vehicles travel more than 30 billion kilometers a year. At any one time, more than a third are not full to capacity.

      North Vancouver-based Go99 wants to solve that problem. Describing itself as “Airbnb for trucking”, the company has created an app that allows drivers to personally connect with owners of cargo loads, and fill up their vehicles—just like a landlord looking to rent out their condo. That makes transporting goods more efficient, transparent, and green.

      “The environmental impact of having empty space in a truck is huge,” Devlin Fenton, CEO of Go99, tells the Straight at a local coffee shop. “If you’re driving without being full, you’re needlessly putting carbon into the air. Freight trucks are responsible for significant backups in traffic, meaning that other cars will be on the road for longer. An app like ours can make an impact on that. Truckers can use Go99 to see what the closest load to them is, and the fewest miles they need to drive to reach that cargo. That means more money in the bank for them, and their carbon footprint will be smaller.”

      The key to the app is its transparency. In the past, those wishing to ship freight had to phone a broker, who would then contact a trucker. That process is both time consuming and risky. Those sending a load—often worth millions of dollars—had to trust a driver they don’t know to deliver their cargo on time, safely, and at a reasonable price. Understandably, things often go wrong.

      “Go99 makes it really simple for truckers,” Fenton says. “You log in, and the app knows where you are. It will offer a list of loads that are leaving near you—the dimensions, the weight, the destination, and any specifics about it—and you can see a suggested price. You can then respond directly to the owner of that cargo, and negotiate the cost.

      “On the other side, a shipper can see the person they’re dealing with,” he continues. “They can see a person’s insurance documents that they’ve posted on their profile, and can contact them directly. It’s much more efficient. In our experience, it makes insurance companies happier, because with just two people in a contract, it’s easy to sort out who is responsible if there are any issues.”

      In the last few years, the trucking industry has become a hotbed of innovation. Companies like Tesla have created electric freight vehicles, and self-driving trucks have completed coast-to-coast trips across North America. Go99 was built to be able to adapt to those coming changes.

      “Automation is going to disrupt the supply chain, and the workforce,” Fenton says. “In five years, the landscape will look significantly different. We’ve built in infrastructure inside the app to allow for autonomous trucks in the future. All you need for our service is someone sending a load, and a carrier. That carrier doesn’t need to be an individual driver—it could be someone who owns a fleet of trucks. When I look at the other apps out there doing similar things to us, we appear to be the only one with that infrastructure built in.

      “We are very bullish on the autonomous trucks,” he continues. “It’s a no brainier. Robots are safer than humans—no doubt about it. They’re more efficient and they’re better at driving. If a human is heading up a hill, they don’t know what the incline will be. They can’t perform against a robot that knows the gradient coming up, and can prepare for it. There will be a massive improvement in carbon footprints with autonomous trucks, and we want to support that. We’re future ready.”

      Follow Kate Wilson on Twitter @KateWilsonSays