Share this story:

Four DRobotics Completes Safe Snow Plowing Project in Partnership with OVIN

Four DRobotics Corp.

Ottawa, ON, April 22, 2024 – TheNewswire – Four DRobotics (“FDR” or the “Company”) has successfully completed the development and demonstration of sensor and automation technology that increases the safety of snowplow operation. Developed in collaboration with the City of Ottawa and supported by the Ontario government through the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN), FDR tested this technology at the Invest Ottawa AreaX.0 private all-weather connected and autonomous vehicle test track, a node in the OVIN regional technology development site program.  


“Four DRobotics’ innovative new snowplow safety sensor technology is just one of the many new technological advances that Ontario’s automotive ecosystem is developing on a daily basis,” said Vic Fedeli, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “We congratulate Four DRobotics and OVIN for partnering to make this achievement a reality and look forward to it helping to make Ontario’s winter roads and highways safer.”


Recognizing the harsh conditions that snowplow operators face as road markings, boundaries and objects are often obscured and the significant cost to a municipality when a snowplow damages property or when a snowplow is damaged by an impact with an object that an operator cannot see, Four DRobotics developed advanced sensor technology with the capability to detect objects in winter weather conditions that a human is unable to detect. In support of this project, the company received over $486k from the Ontario government through the OVIN R&D Partnership Fund and equipment and support from the City of Ottawa.


"Our government is proud to support innovative technologies that improve road safety – especially during Ontario's challenging winter weather conditions," said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Minister of Transportation. "By investing in projects like this, combined with our increased vehicle inspections and enforcement activity, we’re making sure more drivers and families get home safely at the end of their day.”


Through this collaboration, Four DRobotics evaluated sensors such as lidar, radar, and thermal, infrared, and optical cameras, and developed and demonstrated a prototype consisting of a multi-modal suite of sensors installed on an existing snowplow or other outdoor vehicle to support human operation with enhanced safety.  The design of this prototype includes machine learning algorithms to process data from sensors that detect terrain and identify objects in extreme weather, a mechatronic system to control a snowplow blade actuation, and enabling teleoperation via 5G, with the goal of advancing to safe autonomous operation in the future.  Fused sensor data from the multi-modal sensor was used to warn the operator via a nonintrusive color LED array and send a command to automatically lift the snowplow blade.  In the long-term, the multi-modal sensor suite will be commercialized as a turnkey product delivered in kit form for retrofitting existing vehicles, installation on new vehicles, or as a safety sensor for traffic safety.  The existing prototype system can be retrofitted to an existing snowplow in less than sixty minutes.


“This project had several positive outcomes for Four DRobotics, one of which were not possible without the support of the City of Ottawa Roads and Parking staff who provided advice, access to and operated a snowplow,” said Jeremy James, President & CTO of Four DRobotics. “We developed a practical application of machine learning combined with sensor data fusion to develop a prototype multi-modal sensor that can be installed on any human operated municipal or provincial service vehicle to increase operational safety.  This sensor has now also been installed on our uncrewed autonomous service vehicle demonstrator to support autonomous driving.  Four DRobotics also developed a computer-controlled snow blade actuation system and a snowplow operator object warning system.  The snow blade actuation system is easily installable/removable and can be operated autonomously or over-ridden by a snowplow operator; and the object warning system is based upon a multi-color LED array that uses color and relative position to indicate location and distance to an object.  Inputs to the object warning system are determined by the Machine learning combined with sensor data fusion.  Four DRobotics hopes to continue the evolution of these outcomes through field trials with the City of Ottawa, other municipalities, or the province.”


“The combination of Ontario’s unique climate and the ingenuity of our companies presents an opportunity for leading-edge mobility innovation,” said Raed Kadri, Head of OVIN. “OVIN is proud to support local companies that are responding to the call for made-in-Ontario solutions to the most pressing challenges to road safety while developing technologies that communities across the province need. Together, we are mitigating risks to road travel and ensuring that people and goods move safely and efficiently, even in harsh conditions.”


Testing was conducted during harsh weather conditions at the Invest Ottawa AreaX.0 private test track.  The public demonstration showed that the objects such as a manhole cover and railway track can be detected in advance and an autonomous command lifted the snowplow blade prior to a collision with the objects.


"The outcome of the project showed potential for future technological advancement for operator safety and equipment damage prevention due to high iron in the right of way during winter control operations," said Christopher Paquette, Program Manager, Operational Research and Projects, Roads and Parking Services at the City of Ottawa.


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 technology has been tested on a City of Ottawa snowplow. The technology has been tested on a City of Ottawa snowplows 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 snowplows, airport runway snowplows, 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 is a solution to extreme weather operation.


About Four DRobotics Corporation

Four DRobotics Corp is based in Ottawa, Canada, is a Canadian owned small medium 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 physical security and perimeter security.


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 (


About the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN)

The Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN) is an initiative of the Government of Ontario, led by the Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI), designed to reinforce Ontario's position as a North American leader in advanced automotive technology and smart mobility solutions such as connected vehicles, autonomous vehicles, and electric and low-carbon vehicle technologies. Through resources such as research and development (R&D) support, talent and skills development, technology acceleration, business and technical supports, and demonstration grounds, OVIN provides a competitive advantage to Ontario-made automotive and mobility technology companies.

For more information about Four DRobotics Corp., please visit:  or contact: or

T. +1(613)739-2687 – ext. 2