Robotic Research, LLC (rr.ai), a global leader in Automated Driving Systems (ADS), and FPInnovations, a Canadian private non-profit research and development centre, has announced their collaboration to develop an off-road truck platooning system for the forest industry. This project will combine Robotic Research’s expertise as a global leader in self-driving technology with FPInnovations’ knowledge in forestry and transportation to adapt the truck platooning technology to off-highway environments.
The multi-year project aims at accelerating the adoption of off-road automated-vehicle (AV) technology to improve safety and address an acute labour shortage, thereby improving the quality and viability of rural jobs where natural resources are located. Looking to the future, a successful project would not only benefit Canada’s forest industry, but other Canadian sectors such as mining resources and natural resources in Northern Canada.
Robotic Research, with a history of other groundbreaking projects, including the development of the Xcelsior AV announced with New Flyer this year, will create unmanned convoys of Class 8, ADS-enabled trucks that follow a driver in a lead vehicle. The project will adapt existing technology to challenging Canadian conditions such as four-season weather and operations on off-pavement roads, particularly for resource roads in continental and polar climates.
“We are extremely proud to have been selected by FPInnovations and believe this project is a transformative model of how ADS can aid industries, like forestry, operating in perilous conditions or facing workforce shortages,” said Alberto Lacaze, President, Robotic Research. “The unmanned truck convoys work in concert with commercial drivers to enhance their efficiency, while also protecting their safety.”
In Phase I, truck convoys will be put through safety trials that mimic the routes from harvesting sites to sawmills. Once the system is proven to be secure, FPInnovations will run trials on actual resource roads, known to be challenging because of dust, sharp curves, and steep slopes.
“We are very pleased to partner with Robotic Research whose leading-edge expertise in the commercial on-road and defense transportation will greatly benefit Canada’s natural resource sectors and help address an acute labor shortage,” stated Stéphane Renou, President and Chief Executive Officer, FPInnovations.