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Four DRobotics Corp. Leverages Government of Ontario Support To Enhance Sensor Capabilities of Snow Plows

August 31, 2021

In partnership with Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN), led by the Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI), Four DRobotics Corp ct is developing sensor technology that will increase the safety of snow plow operation.  The City of Ottawa will be the primary partner on this project to develop this technology that will be tested at the Invest Ottawa Area X.O private all-weather connected and autonomous vehicle test track in Ottawa.  Sensor Coretek, Studio63, Syntronics, and T minus20 will take on a secondary partnership roll on the project.

 

Ottawa, CA:  Snowplow operators are on the road day and night operating in harsh weather conditions. Road markings, boundaries and objects are often obscured.  Four DRobotics will develop advanced sensor technology with the capability to detect objects in winter weather conditions that a human is unable to detect.

 

There is a significant cost to a municipality when a snow plow damages property or when a snowplow is damaged by an impact with an object that an operator can not see.  Safety can be increased by employing advanced sensor technologies that sense and detect objects in the path of a vehicle.  An advanced sensor system will detect and report an object to the operator or future autonomous vehicle control system that will react by safely stopping, slowing down, or manoeuvring to avoid an impact.

 

This project will evaluate the capabilities of a variety of sensors in winter weather conditions. Evaluated sensors will include: lidar, radar, and thermal, infrared, and optical cameras. Algorithms will be developed to process data from sensors to detect terrain and identify objects in extreme weather. This information is essential to provide enhanced situational awareness to the operator and support future teleoperation and autonomous operation.

 

Through AVIN, Four Drobotics received $486,463 in support from the Government of Ontario, with a further $972,925 in industry contributions, for a total project value of $1,459,388.

The goal of the project is to develop and demonstrate a prototype applique suite of sensors installed on an existing snowplow or other outdoor vehicle to support manned operation with enhanced safety which can also be used to enable teleoperation and safe autonomous operation in the future.  In the long-term the applique will be commercialized as a turnkey product delivered in kit form for retrofit to existing vehicles or installation on new vehicles.

 

Testing of sensor operation will be conducted at the AVIN Regional Technology Development Site in Ottawa, Area X.O which is led and managed by Invest Ottawa, during harsh weather conditions as well as at the National Research Council Climatic Testing Research Facility.

 

The City of Ottawa as the primary partner of the project will provide a snow plow to the project and technical support for sensor and actuator integration.

 

Cortek  provides full-stack development including sensor calibration, data annotation, neural network design and real-time embedded systems. Cortek will co-develop and integrate AI based algorithms that will be used for objective detection.

 

Studio 63 is considered to be Canada’s top design studio for designing & integrating future technologies into vehicles.will be co-developing the sensor applique package and driver alert system.

 

Syntronics is a leading engineering design house with more than 35 years of experience developing world-class complex product designs, including development of large scale systems,will provide the project management services.

 

 

Tminus20 specializes in IT Risk Management – a management approach that aligns IT Security with an organization’s risk appetite. This results in improved security with lower compliance and audit costs. They will provide an independent IT Security Threat and Risk Assessment for the sensor applique.

 

 

The development, testing and integration of the sensor applique started in Jan 2021 and will complete with a public demonstration in April 2022.

 

 

Background

 

Need for increased vehicle safety

 

Even though it is prudent for most drivers to stay off the road during extreme weather events there are many reasons why special purpose vehicles need to operate despite mother nature. Essential services such as road clearing, transport of goods, responding to emergencies, and national security must continue in all weather conditions.  Driving a vehicle under extreme weather conditions is dangerous, and stressful.  Technology can be used to reduce the risk and stress.  A first step is to develop sensors that can perceive objects and terrain that a human would be unable to see.  Two objectives of a sensor applique are the capability to perceive objects in extreme cold weather and a capability to perform in an environment when snow, rain, hail, or sleet is falling.

Application of this technology

 

The first recipient of the technology developed for this project is the City of Ottawa for application on existing snow plows.  The sensor applique will be delivered in a retrofit kit that can be used in many manned and unmanned vehicle applications, such as retrofits to: highway snow plows, airport runway snow plows, transport trucks, fire trucks, police cars, ambulances, operation on roads in the Canadian north, and vehicle convoys.  In all of these cases the service provided by these vehicles is essential and must continue during extreme weather events.

 

One of the significant challenges for autonomous vehicles has been operation in extreme weather.  The sensor technology developed by this project are a solution to extreme weather operation.

 

 

About Four DRobotics Corporation: Formerly known as Cohort Systems Inc., Four DRobotics Corp is based in Ottawa, Canada, Four DRobotics https://www.fourdrobotics.com/ is an Emerging Technology company.

Canadian owned enterprise with business development offices in Ottawa and Beloeil, Quebec.  Four DRobotics develops autonomous vehicles that employ Goal Based Reasoning and Deep Learning for the Autonomous Vehicles as a Service business.  The company is focused on the application of this business model to the physical security of critical infrastructure.

 

Media contact: (613) 806-8007 or email Clinton Joseph at clinton.joseph@fourdrobotics.com, or info@fourdrobotics.com.

 

About AVIN

Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) is an initiative by the Government of Ontario, led by the Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI), designed to reinforce Ontario’s position as a North American leader in transportation technology and infrastructure systems. Through resources such as research and development (R&D) support, talent development, technology acceleration, business and technical supports, and demonstration grounds, AVIN provides a competitive advantage to Ontario-based automotive and mobility technology companies.

Ontario’s 2021 Budget announced further support for the auto sector by investing $56.4 million over the next four years to build on the successful elements of AVIN and create the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN). OVIN’s expanded mandate will help foster the next generation of electric, connected and autonomous vehicle and mobility technologies in Ontario.

“Developing advanced safety sensors for snowplows that harness Ontario’s expertise in data analytics and artificial intelligence is a great example of effective collaboration between industry and government,” said Vic Fedeli, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “The partnership demonstrates how targeted investments through Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network are fostering growth among small and medium-sized technology companies while furthering the province’s leadership in advanced vehicle technologies.”

 

 

About Invest Ottawa:

Invest Ottawa is the lead economic development agency for knowledge-based industries in Canada’s Capital, facilitating economic growth and job creation in the City of Ottawa. Guided by a vision to help realize Ottawa’s full potential as a globally recognized, innovative and future-ready city, Invest Ottawa delivers venture development, global expansion and talent programs and services that catalyze the growth and success of entrepreneurs and firms. These include small business training, mentorship, acceleration for technology firms, foreign business and investment attraction, local business retention and expansion in targeted sectors, commercialization, and marketing Ottawa’s diversified economy and high quality of life. Invest Ottawa is also the founder and manager of the AreaX.O, a nexus of innovation and collaboration for connected and autonomous vehicles.

 

About City of Ottawa:

With a population of over 1 million, Canada’s capital city is recognized as a centre of excellence for knowledge-based industries and is home to more than 1,750 such companies that employ over 68,500 highly skilled people. Ottawa is a thriving and internationally recognized global tech hub anchored by multinational giants, homegrown successes, and high-growth startups and scaleups with top talent. With the highest concentration of tech talent in North America (CBRE, 2020), Ottawa is a center of innovation and globally recognized as innovative, future-ready, and the best place to learn, work, live, and play (www.whyottawa.ca).  

 

About Sensor Coretek:

Sensor Cortek is an Ottawa-based company that designs embedded perceptual solutions powered by artificial intelligence to achieve high accuracy and robustness in challenging environments. 

Sensor Cortek  provides full-stack development including sensor calibration, data annotation, neural network design and real-time embedded systems. In the past years, Sensor Cortek has developed  AI -based radar solutions for the automotive industry.

 

About Studio63:

Studio 63 is an Ottawa based design agency with a full-stack complement of expertise, knowledge, and skill set to bring products and services to any and every industry. Studio 63 is considered to be Canada’s top design studio for designing & integrating future technologies into vehicles. For many years Studio 63 has had the pleasure of working with several cutting edge companies with the dream of creating the next important automotive technologies of the future.  

 

About Syntronic:

Syntronic is a leading engineering design house with more than 35 years of experience developing world-class complex product designs, including development of large scale systems. We take pride in being a one-stop shop for business partners interested in creative solutions related to design, prototyping, verification, maintenance, volume production and aftermarket services.

 

With three design centers covering the AMERICAS, EMEA and APAC market, we provide you with local support and at the same time enables you to leverage our capabilities in a low-cost region. Our design centers are equipped with state-of-the-art labs that are tailormade for advanced product development.

 

About Tminus20:

Tminus20 specializes in IT Risk Management – a management approach that aligns IT Security with an organization’s risk appetite. This results in improved security with lower compliance and audit costs.

Managing IT Risk also brings a vocabulary to IT Security that is common to risk management throughout the organization. This enables integration of IT risks with the Enterprise Risk Management program, thereby improving an organization’s understanding of its overall risk profile, and ultimately enabling improved performance.

Tminus20 assists clients with IT Risk Management program implementation, including process automation to reduce the burden of on-going compliance.

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