Autonomous passenger vehicles have become ubiquitous in news feeds around the world and even the realm of commercial trucking is working toward a future where trucks will one day be driverless. In Northern Ontario, there is a shortage of truck drivers to haul timber on logging roads that can be challenging to navigate due to both adverse road and weather conditions. Bringing autonomous trucks to this industry is an undertaking that requires groundbreaking technology to be successful. Nawiinginokiima Forest Management Corporation (NFMC) and Provectus Robotics Solutions Inc. have entered into an agreement to bring semi-autonomous logging truck convoys to the forestry industry.

With help from the Centre for Research & Innovation in the Bio-Economy (CRIBE), NFMC and Provectus Robotics Solutions were brought together. The solution will have an experienced logging road truck driver in the lead, with two autonomous trucks following behind, closely duplicating the expert driver’s route and speed to ensure a safe passage from loading to the mill. With safety being paramount, obstacle detection and avoidance technologies will be employed as well as a continuous and reliable link between the lead vehicle and the two autonomous followers. The project is commencing immediately with testing to occur in spring and summer of 2021.

Provectus Robotics Solutions has been successful in bringing similar autonomous convoy technologies in defence applications for many countries around the globe. “Bringing the advanced technology that has been developed for off-road applications in extreme climates from desert heat to ice and snow, has enabled us to bring a robust and viable solution to the logging industry,” explains Jason Scheib, Director, Business Development for Provectus Robotics Solutions. “We believe this will be a valuable advancement to address the driver shortage in Northern Ontario and around the world, while making the transport of lumber to the mills safer and more efficient.”

NFMC manages approximately 1.5 million hectares of productive Crown forest and has been tasked to provide a steady flow of wood to major mills in the area to support the economy and provide people with jobs. The project is being launched under the direction of Carmelo Notarbartolo, NFMC’s General Manager. “Nawiinginokiima Forest Management Corporation is currently the only Crown corporation of its kind in the Province of Ontario. When we were created, part of the vision was that NFMC would be a leader in bringing new technologies to the forest industry and provide opportunities to pilot these technologies on our management area. Today we are proud to announce our partnership with Provectus Robotics Solutions, with the assistance of CRIBE, that will enable us to begin testing new autonomous trucking technology in our forests with the ultimate goal of assisting the forest industry in this very competitive global sector.”

Testing is expected to begin immediately and will be conducted throughout the spring and summer.

Nawiinginokiima Forest Management Corporation (NFMC) was established in 2012 by the Province of Ontario as the first Crown corporation under the Ontario Forest Tenure Modernization Act. Located in Marathon, ON, NFMC manages the Pic and White River Forests located in Northwestern Ontario, surrounding the Communities of Biigtigong Nishnaabeg (Pic River First
Nation), Netmizaaggamig Nishnaabeg (Pic Mobert First Nation), the Aboriginal Community of Hornepayne, the municipalities of Marathon, Manitouwadge, White River and Hornepayne. The management area is comprised of a total potential annual allowable harvest of 1.6 million cubic meters of wood.

Provectus Robotics Solutions Inc. is the industry leader in advanced robotic system design, integration, and control. Located in Ottawa, ON, Canada, the company delivers robotic control software and services to the aerospace, agricultural, industrial, mining, military, and security industries. Since 2010, Provectus has participated in design and development activities on many different robotic platforms, while delivering systems to customers worldwide. Provectus’ experience and mature technology base are why it is the preferred development partner for robotic system integrators all over the world.

Forest Machine Magazine is written and edited by a forest professional with over 40 years hands on experience. We are dedicated to keeping you informed with all the latest news, views and reviews from our industry.

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