July 21, 2024

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Automotive Technology That “Gets Smarter With Every Mile Driven”

3 min read
Automotive Technology That “Gets Smarter With Every Mile Driven”

The origins of Potential, an automotive technology company based in Fredericton, Canada, go back to when Sam Poirier decided to convert a Subaru Impreza into an electric car, showcasing his passion for off-road vehicles and future mobility. 

“The company has since focused on developing software that makes off-road driving more accessible, as well as building its own test vehicles and a futuristic design concept illustrating how off-road vehicles might look,” Poirier, Potential’s CEO, tells Auto Futures.

In 2022, Potential unveiled Adventure 1, a design concept that showcased how its software technologies could work in production-type vehicle.

The company’s core technology is called Terrain Intelligence. This software platform uses forward-facing sensors (such as cameras, radar or lidar) to interpret terrain shape, incline gradient, surface type, obstacles and more.

“The platform can deliver multiple outputs, from presenting data to drivers all the way through to self-selecting vehicle control adjustments such as drive mode, suspension and differential settings, torque levels and more,” he explains.

The technology is designed to run using conventional hardware, such as onboard cameras already found on nearly all modern vehicles. In fact, 75% of the feature set of Terrain Intelligence can be enabled with a single, standard onboard camera.

“Potential’s modular control system, known as Off-Road OS, uses insights from Terrain Intelligence to autonomously adjust suspension, driveline and engine settings and more, all before encountering obstacles, changes in incline and different surface types.”

The company is also utliising AI to continually improive its advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) solutions.

“By leveraging the power of AI, Terrain Intelligence gets smarter with every mile driven and is agile enough to run on vehicles of any size. With Potential’s tech, drivers can go further and faster off-road, and stay safer on-road.”

“Unlike today’s driver assistance systems, which rely on reactive technologies such as wheel sensors, Potential enables proactive control, in advance of reaching hazards. This could offer major advancements in performance, efficiency, comfort and safety,” her adds.

Potential CEO Sam Poirier

Real-World Testing

Potential has so far tested its technology across five countries and three continents. It’s used 12 different vehicles, include side-by-sides, pick-up trucks, SUVs, motorcycles and even an armoured truck.

“We have our own test vehicles and our own off-road proving ground. Our custom-built technology testbed, which we call P0, is an all-electric, quad-motor, 550hp off-road machine bristling with an array of different sensors that we can set up to mirror any customer configuration,” says Poirier.

It has a partnership with CFMOTO USAm a global manufacturer of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), side-by-sides and motorcycles, to integrate terrain perception technology into recreational off-road vehicles.

“Together, we’re conducting extensive real-world testing at our purpose-built off-road proving ground in Fredericton, Canada, and at CFMOTO facilities in the USA. CFMOTO USA is evaluating our full suite of groundbreaking technologies, including Terrain Intelligence, Off-Road OS, and new in-cab driver assistance features,” he explains.

It’s also working on similar programmes in the automotive, mining and defence sectors.

Potential CEO Sam Poirier

Enhancing The Thrill Of Exploration

Potential has recently announced it had raised $2 million Canadian dollars in an extension of its seed round. This builds on two previous seed round commitments, for a total of $8.5 million raised since May 2020.  

“The funding will support new and ongoing innovation projects with global automotive brands, as well as allowing us to make strategic technical recruitments to strengthen our team in key positions,” says Poirier.

Finally, we asked him what mobility and automotive safety will look like by the end of the decade.

“Software-defined vehicles offer an exciting opportunity to transform the driving experience and enhance the thrill of exploration for everyone,” says Poirier.

“We see the future splitting in two: autonomous driving features that are increasingly being mandated by regulators, which serve to get vehicles from point to point safely; and advanced driver-assist systems that make vehicles more fun and more capable and accessible to more people.”

“Our vision is to see our solutions embedded into every vehicle that rolls of the production line. This would empower explorers every day, whether they are braving a wet Monday morning school run or are setting out to traverse the surface of the Moon,” he concludes.

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