National retailer Canadian Tire and Toronto-based autonomous trucking startup NuPort Robotics have partnered with the Ontario government to commercialize automated trucking technology.
As part of the process, the three partners will be investing $1 million each to undertake a two-year automated heavy-duty trucking project to test the technology. The Ontario government is supporting the project through Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN).
The project is applying proprietary, artificial intelligence (AI) technology from NuPort Robotics to retrofit two conventional semi-tractor trailers – which will always be attended by a driver – with high-tech sensors and controls, a touchscreen navigation system, and other advanced features such as obstacle and collision avoidance.
The company 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, NuPort Technology says Canadian Tire will benefit from faster commercial deployments and improvements in supply chain sustainability.
“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, chief executive officer of NuPort Robotics, in a recent press release. “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.”