Two companies partnered with the Ontario government to rollout next-gen automated trucking technology
The national retailer, Canadian Tire Corporation and the Toronto-based start-up, NuPort Robotics Inc., both announced its collaboration with the Ontario government to kickstart a heavy-duty trucking project worth $3 million and be able to try out a first-of-its-kind-in-the-world technology.
This technology will create a positive change in transportation for the middle mile, short-haul shuttle runs that semi-tractors make between distribution centres, warehouses and terminals each day. This project will allow next-generation automated trucks that are created to be more fuel efficient, safer to utilize, and has a provision for an enhanced driver experience.
The project has already been supported by the Ontario government with $1 million backing through the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) and also matched by $1 million worth of investments from Canadian Tire and NuPort Robotics. This two-year collaboration will be using proprietary, artificial intelligence (AI) technology from NuPort Robotics to retrofit two conventional semi-tractor trailers, run by a driver and with high-tech sensors and controls, a touchscreen navigation system, and other advanced features such as obstacle and collision avoidance.
“Ontario is proud to be a global leader in automated and connected vehicle technology and this innovative project is an exciting milestone toward automated vehicle tech in the trucking industry,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. “Ontarians rely on goods being delivered by trucks across the province every day and projects like this are demonstrating the ways that automated truck technology could help businesses meet delivery demands more efficiently while supporting a strong supply chain in Ontario.”
“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 commercialize next generation transportation technologies that strengthen our economy and benefit society.”
“The trucks are currently transporting goods between a Canadian Tire distribution centre in the Greater Toronto Area and nearby rail terminals within a 20 km radius, and early results are promising” said Raghavender Sahdev, CEO of NuPort Robotics. “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. 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.”
NuPort’s vision to the autonomous trucking industry is very unique as it focuses only on providing solutions to the middle mile challenge, with preset trucking routes that are repetitive and high frequency as compared to driving in the general highway. Finally, when this has been implemented on fixed routes in the future, Canadian Tire will benefit from the faster commercial deployments and supply chain sustainability improvements.
“Canadian Tire embraces innovation and is always testing new technologies to improve our operational efficiency and safety. As proud Canadian companies, the safety of all stakeholders, including drivers, employees, customers, and public will be the top priority as we work together towards deployment of this technology,” said Gary Fast, Vice-President of Transportation, Canadian Tire.
“Over the last three years, Canadian Tire has made a significant effort to solve complex business problems by using the Canadian start-up Artificial Intelligence ecosystem, and NuPort Robotics exemplifies what we look for in a start-up with a focus on innovation, automation and artificial intelligence,” added Cari Covent, Vice President of Intelligent Automation, Canadian Tire.
“As NuPort Robotics continues to develop new technologies to overcome middle mile supply chain problems and advance autonomous trucking, I am extremely grateful for the support of the Ontario Government through AVIN and the Ontario Centre of Innovation. With their continued support, we are striving to position Canada as the leader in autonomous transportation,” Sahdev said.
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