Why SafeAI is expanding into Canada
By Chad Elmore23 November 2021
SafeAI is expanding into Canada, marketing an autonomous operating system. Chad Elmore reports
The benefits that autonomous equipment can bring to a construction or mining company can go beyond keeping workers out of harm’s way — the founder and CEO of technology company SafeAI believes it will also help keep big jobs on-time and under budget. Bibhrajit Halder and his growing team have been working hard to make driverless machinery a reality. The California-based company has expanded its footprint into Canada and Australia and more recently introduced a new operating system it said will help customers accelerate their own development programs.
The operating system, named SafeAI Autonomous Framework (SAF), was built specifically for autonomous heavy equipment. The company said the system makes it possible for its customers to leverage the infrastructure and industry expertise it has built to complete their own autonomous application development projects.
SafeAI called SAF a “world first” and said it is a comprehensive, safety certifiable operating system purpose-built for heavy industry applications of autonomy. It’s designed with functions required for the development and deployment of autonomous applications, including high portability and reliability to ensure functionality. Written to meet MISRA (C:2021 and C++:2008) and AUTOSAR coding standards, the company said SAF can support various compilers and operating systems and can be used in embedded and real-time environments.
“We’ve proven the impact autonomous solutions can have for industries like construction and mining, and we know this is the direction the industry is heading,” said Halder. “But not every company has the resources, bandwidth and expertise to deploy autonomy as quickly as they’d like — and that’s where the SAF comes in. In the same way that operating systems have propelled development in industries like on-road autonomy and unmanned aviation, SAF will shave years off development timelines to move this industry forward in a meaningful way.”
SafeAI Autobonous Framework
With the release of the SAF, SafeAI said it will continue to advance the adoption of autonomy across off-road industries like construction and mining.
“We have seen a huge, huge interest in autonomy from the market, and COVID has accelerated that even more,” said Halder. “People have come to realize we’re not just talking about a vehicle that can run autonomously. There is a significant connected portion, as well. When you make a loader or a dump truck autonomous it is also connected which means the entire work site is digitized. That data is validated for accuracy and correctness because it must always be correct. It cannot lie to you. So, the quality of data increases and customers can use that data for monitoring the progress of a particular jobsite and even use it for future planning. With accurate data, increased utilization and autonomy go hand in hand. In these markets, utilization rates are on everybody’s mind.”
The company has referred to its suite of technology as an autonomous ecosystem (see March 2021 Diesel Progress) that can help make the workflow of a jobsite seamless from end to end. The real-time data collection that drives the technology means a haul truck can help plan a future job while it is moving dirt and rock.
“The data becomes extremely valuable for pretty much everybody, but especially for the largest general contractors and top mining companies,” said Halder. “Good data can help illustrate the status of a particular construction site and it can also help them accurately plan for the next project. That’s massive, because some of the biggest issues for a construction project is the planning that goes into budgeting and timing. Projects go over budget because they do not have enough data to arrive at an accurate estimate of what could happen on a particular site. Data generated by autonomous equipment creates real value. As a society we benefit, as well. Imagine if highway projects could get done in 20% less time and at 25% of the total cost. I think it will have a broad impact.”
SAF platform’s expansion into Australia and Canada
The release of the SAF platform follows a year of growth for SafeAI, which has expanded into Australia and Canada, two of the world’s largest mining markets. The firm also announced $21 million in Series A funding to accelerate its research and development efforts and spur growth on a global scale.
With strong construction and mining industries, SafeAI said Canada is a natural next step for its business. The country’s mining industry is one of the largest in the world, accounting for 7.8% of Canada’s GDP in 2020. Its construction sector is also a leading contributor to the nation’s GDP, with continued opportunities for growth due to government-funded infrastructure projects.
“Canada is the second country after Australia to actually deploy autonomous trucks in a surface mine,” said Halder. “The mines there are looking for ways to expand the use of autonomy. The timing is right for us to expand into that country.”
While the location of its Canadian operation has not yet been announced, the company recently named David Prusinski as its Chief Revenue Officer. He brings 25 years of experience with technology companies across Canada. He worked for Fleet Complete, a provider of connected commercial vehicle solutions, as well as BlackBerry and InSystems.
“Heavy industry is on the brink of a period of mass adoption for autonomous technology,” said Prusinski. “Now that we’ve seen the value and impact of automation for safer, more efficient construction and mining sites, there is no going back. I’m excited to join the team at SafeAI to drive continued expansion and help companies worldwide unlock the value of connected autonomy to improve safety, reimagine workflows, and power results.”
Similar to its operation in Perth, Australia, Halder said the Canadian office will have sales and marketing functions as well as an operations team that will travel to construction and mining sites to deploy, train and educate the site workers when an SafeAI autonomous machine is added to the fleet.
“That’s a big part of our offering to customers, because we know for any technology or product, support and service is important to help prevent downtime,” said Halder. “And in these industries, it is extremely important because we are introducing technology that is very new.”