Automated driving system developer Robotic Research and FPInnovations, a private Canadian non-profit R&D center, are collaborating to develop an off-road truck platooning system for the forestry industry. The companies say the project will combine Robotic Research’s expertise 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 to accelerate the adoption of off-road automated-vehicle technology to improve safety and address an acute labor shortage within forestry. To this end, Robotic Research 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 suit challenging Canadian conditions such as four-season weather and operations on off-pavement roads, particularly 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.”
Phase 1 of the project will see truck convoys undergo safety trials that mimic the routes from harvesting sites to sawmills. Once the system is proved secure, FPInnovations will run trials on actual resource roads, which are challenging due to dust, sharp curves and steep slopes.
“We are very pleased to partner with Robotic Research, whose leading-edge expertise in commercial on-road and defense transportation will greatly benefit Canada’s natural resource sectors and help address an acute labor shortage,” concluded Stéphane Renou, president and CEO, FPInnovations.