Autonomous trucking startup NuPort Robotics is partnering with electric truckmaker EKA to launch the first electric buses with driving support features in India, the companies announced May 4.
Founded in 2019, NuPort is Canada’s first autonomous trucking company. It aims to expand operations into India with heavy-duty commercial vehicles such as buses and trucks capable of SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) level 2 autonomy — that is, steering, braking and accelerating mechanisms to assist drivers, who remain in charge of the vehicles.
In the new partnership, NuPort will provide artificial intelligence-enabled advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) designed for Indian roads, the Indian driving mindset and the complex nature of Indian traffic, while EKA, a subsidiary of Pinnacle Industries, India’s leading special application vehicles company, will provide the electric vehicle platform.
“The current project with EKA allows us to set the first precedent in India for a level 2 AI-enabled smart electric bus,” Raghavender Sahdev, CEO of NuPort Robotics, said in a statement. “Partnering with EKA on this initiative allows us to work with a leading national manufacturer and learn and develop technology solutions specifically for Indian driving conditions. NuPort’s focus on innovation, sustainability, automation, and artificial intelligence is aligned perfectly with EKA’s principles and vision leading to this strategic partnership between the two companies.”
After rigorous tests of the new autonomous features, the companies plan to deploy the technology on more than 5,000 buses, representing a minimum investment of nearly 1.5 billion rupees ($19.4 million). The companies noted such technologies are associated with reducing crash rates by nearly 50 percent in commercial vehicles.
“Our partnership with NuPort ensures that our electric buses are not only environmentally friendly, but also futuristic through incorporation of artificial intelligence, thereby making our buses efficient and safer to operate on Indian roads,” Sudhir Mehta, chairman of EKA and Pinnacle Industries Limited, said in a statement. “This collaboration strengthens our goal of positioning EKA as the leader in the electric vehicle industry in India. I am confident that both EKA and NuPort will provide a safer, greener, and much more efficient transportation for Indian roads.”