Toronto-based autonomous trucking startup NuPort Robotics has received $1 million in funding from the Ontario government for a new automated heavy duty trucking initiative, working in collaboration with retail company Canadian Tire. This investment has been matched by $1 million commitments from NuPort and Canadian Tire for $3 million in total project funding.

The project aims to retrofit two conventional Canadian Tire distribution trucks with high-tech sensors, touchscreen navigation, and other advanced features including obstacle and collision avoidance.

The two trucks, attended by a driver, are already transporting goods within a 20-kilometre radius of Canadian Tire’s Greater Toronto Area distribution centre.

“The aim of the project is to develop a system that incorporates an autopilot feature for conventional trucks, leading to the most efficient way to drive and increase safety,” said Raghavender Sahdev, the CEO of NuPort Robotics. “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.”

Founded in 2019, NuPort aims to provide a transportation solution for what it calls “the middle mile”, which it describes as “the short-haul shuttle runs that semi-tractor trailers make between distribution centres, warehouses and rail terminals each day.”

NuPort said this fixed route approach uses a known set of predetermined trucking routes and is more predictable than general highway driving.