Toronto-based start-up NuPort Robotics and Canadian Tire Company have announced a partnership with the government to invest $3m to test what claims to be first-of-a-kind automated truck technology.
The government of Ontario province in Canada is partnering with Canadian Tire and autonomous driving company NuPort Robotics to undertake a heavy-duty trucking project to test automated technology.
The two-year project will see the Toronto-based start-up Nuport retrofit its technology to conventional semi-tractor trailers incorporating high-tech sensors and controls, a touchscreen navigation system, and other features such as obstacle and collision avoidance. A safety driver will be in the trucks at all times.
Short-haul shuttle runs
Described as a breakthrough technology, it aims to provide a transportation solution for the “middle-mile” – the short-haul shuttle runs that semi-tractor trailers make between distribution centres, warehouses, and terminals each day.
The trucks are currently transporting goods between one of Canadian Tire’s distribution centre in the Greater Toronto Area and nearby rail terminals within a 12.5-mile radius.
The project is backed by $1m in support from the Ontario government through Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network and matched by $1m investments from Canadian Tire and NuPort Robotics, respectively.
“This project applies unique and made-in-Ontario Artificial Intelligence technology that offers increased safety and efficiency, with a reduced carbon footprint, to the goods supply chains on which we all rely,” said Vic Fedeli, Ontario minister of economic development, job creation and trade.
“This is the latest example of how Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network acts as a catalyst, fostering partnerships between ambitious technology start-ups and industry to develop and commercialise next generation transportation technologies that strengthen our economy and benefit society.”
NuPort Robotics said its approach to autonomous trucking focuses only on solving the middle mile challenge, using a known set of predetermined trucking routes that are repetitive and high frequency as opposed to general highway driving.
Ultimately, when implemented on fixed routes in the future, Canadian Tire will benefit from faster commercial deployments and improvements in supply chain sustainability, NuPort claims.
“The aim of the project is to develop a system that incorporates an autopilot feature for conventional trucks with a driver, leading to the most efficient way to drive and increase safety,” added Raghavender Sahdev, CEO of NuPort Robotics.
“The sensors work as a ‘safety cocoon’ to cover blind spots and prevent accidents and the end result is peak fuel efficiency, meaning lower carbon emissions, and peak driving performance for an overall more optimal transportation experience.”
The Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network is an initiative by the government of Ontario, led by the Ontario Centre of Innovation, designed to reinforce Ontario’s position as a North American leader in transportation technology and infrastructure systems.