Logistics startup FR8relay gets grant for drop and hook project

August 23, 2022

Chuck Robinson


A logistics startup based in Bentonville, Ark., has scored another grant to complete a “trucking relay model.”

The model utilizes a drop-and-hook strategy, when a driver drops a full container at a facility and hooks their tractor to a pre-loaded trailer at the same facility for a backhaul.

Logistics technology company FR8relay has been awarded a nearly $650,000 federal grant to complete a pilot project for its relay trucking model, according to a company news release. This grant follows up a 2021 grant awarded to FR8relay to evaluate the potential impact of its relay technology.

In this second phase, the goal is to finish developing a relay software prototype and coordinate partners in the “relay exchange node” communities.

The goal is to transform the long-haul trucking model from a point-to-point model to a drop-and-hook model, allowing drivers to return home daily. The program also is expected to spur economic development in rural and tribal areas of the U.S.

The grants were funded through the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Aayush Thakur is CEO and a co-founder of FR8relay. Pitchbook.com also lists Deme Yuan as chief operating officer and co-founder and Akshay Singh as chief product officer and co-founder. The company formerly was known as Truckish. Connect Dynamics Inc. is another connected business entity.

The relay model or drop and hook model includes locating transfer locations or relay nodes in rural communities. This is expected to create jobs for node operators, truck drivers, mechanics, food service and other services. Truck parking and alternative energy infrastructure are cited as “new revenue sources.”

“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,” Thakur said in a news release.

An abstract submitted with the grant application notes the “inefficient use of expensive assets significant environmental impact from idling trucks and increased waste of perishable items compounded by longer than necessary transportation time.” It also cited a significant shortage of long-haul drivers. OOIDA has long called the often repeated phrase “driver shortage” a myth.

“By transforming long-haul trucking into a localized shift job, driving would no longer be a livelihood at the expense of quality of life,” the abstract stated.

FR8relay this summer also has been awarded a grant of $206,468 by the Department of Energy to develop novel mobility solutions (utilizing the drop and hook model) for underserved and disadvantaged communities, according to Arkansas Money & Politics. It was one of 210 small businesses in 38 states to get a Department of Energy grant.

Walmart is based in Bentonville. Also, J.B. Hunt is based in Lowell, Ark. LL