Canadian Tire is investing a million dollars in a first-of-its-kind autonomous trucking project in Canada.
The funds are being matched by the province of Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network and by Toronto-based autonomous trucking startup NuPort Robotics. NuPort’s technology focuses on the middle mile.
It has retrofit two Canadian Tire tractors with sensors and controls that allow it to transport goods autonomously between a Canadian Tire distribution center and nearby rail terminals. A driver will be in the trucks at all times.
“The trucks are currently transporting goods between a Canadian Tire distribution center in the Greater Toronto Area and nearby rail terminals within a 20-kilometer 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.”
“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,” added Gary Fast, vice-president of transportation, Canadian Tire.
NuPort says it’s the only autonomous trucking technology company to focus on the middle mile, using predetermined trucking routes that are repetitive and high frequency as opposed to highway travel. “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.