Almon, a Toronto-based company that provides infrastructure maintenance products and services, recently completed an autonomous vehicle technology project with the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN).
Almon received nearly $ 1 million for this project over the past year, including $ 253,000 from the Ontario government.
The project was led by the Ontario Innovation Center (formerly known as Ontario Centers of Excellence) and enabled Almon to develop a modernization package for heavy truck automation. Almon worked with Toronto automation startup X-Matik to modernize a 2020 Peterbilt truck with actuators and sensors, and the University of Waterloo’s Mechatronic Vehicle Systems Lab to develop the algorithms needed to enable a autonomous operation.
Almon was founded in 1981 and offers a range of road and infrastructure solutions. In 2019, Almon launched its Autonomous Truck Development Program and partnered with the University of Waterloo and AVIN for the development.
Almon received nearly $ 1 million in funding for this project over the past year, including $ 253,000 from the Government of Ontario through the AVIN R&D Partnership Fund, with an additional contribution of $ 685,000 from the industry.
The first application of this newly developed technology is in traffic control trucks. These trucks, which are fitted with a Truck Mounted Attenuator (TMA), are also known as crash trucks and are commonly used on roads where construction or maintenance work is being done near traffic lanes. active.
“The sad reality is that people are too often injured in work area crashes,” said Jamie Ally, vice president of engineering at Almon. “Our goal is to improve road safety and reduce insurance costs, by introducing autonomous systems capable of detecting and avoiding collisions, reducing risks, automating hazardous work and, ultimately, to save lives. ”
With further testing, Almon hopes to remove the driver from the crashed truck and therefore remove a human driver from what the company has called “hazardous road work”. Almon is also working to equip these trucks with advanced driver assistance systems that can offer adaptive cruise control and emergency braking.
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In 2016, the Ontario government launched a 10-year pilot program to enable the testing of autonomous vehicles on public roads under certain conditions. The following year, Ontario launched AVIN, investing $ 80 million over five years in the program led by the Ontario Innovation Center. AVIN aims to establish partnerships across the province to develop autonomous vehicle technology.
In its latest provincial budget, the Ontario government committed $ 56.4 million to create a new program focused on manufacturing electric vehicles called the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network. The program would facilitate partnerships between startups, universities, the automotive industry and the battery sector and “build on the successes” of the existing AVIN program.
Vic Fedeli, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, said the Almon project illustrates how autonomous vehicle technology can improve road safety for drivers and maintenance crews .
“As our government works to help businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,
[AVIN] fosters the growth of small and medium-sized technology companies and positions Ontario for long-term competitiveness, ”added Fedeli.
Almon is one of the many companies creating new products within the Canadian auto industry. Clutch, which raised $ 60 million in funding this month, offers an online car sales platform. NuPort Robotics, also funded by AVIN, is currently working on a new automated heavy truck trucking initiative alongside Canadian Tire. Gatik, a Toronto and US-based automotive technology company that partnered with Loblaws in 2020, also recently received funding from AVIN’s research and development fund.
The funding landscape for these types of projects appears to be developing in Canada. Last week, BlackBerry launched a $ 50 million fund to help startups in the data-driven automotive ecosystem commercialize their technology using BlackBerry’s smart vehicle data platform.
Image source Almon.