Clarksburg-Based Driverless Tech Company Changes Name to Forterra

Courtesy Forterra

Clarksburg-based Robotic Research Autonomous Industries (RRAI) has announced that it has changed its name to Forterra. The driverless tech company is located at 22521 Gateway Center Drive in Clarksburg. The name Forterra combines “for” as in “directed to” or “belonging to,” with “terra,” from Latin meaning “earth” or “solid ground.” In addition, its implied qualities include “forte” from Latin fortem or “strong” – an ability to withstand a great force or pressure. And RR – the double Rs pay homage to the company’s prior name – “Robotic Research” – and its 20+ year history. In 2021, the company announced a $228 million round of funding. Additional information below, from Forterra:

“Since our founding over 20 years ago, we have been focused on the deployment of groundbreaking autonomy systems,” Forterra CEO Josh Araujo said. “Our rebrand to Forterra represents who we are today, while reflecting our history and the mission that drives us. We exist to empower people and their missions — regardless of the environment.” Forterra’s focus on defense vehicles and private-road, on-property, and industrial-use commercial trucks is unique. By avoiding the regulatory risks faced by robotaxi and on-highway driverless trucking firms, Forterra expects a quicker trajectory to profitable growth than its competitors.

“Forterra’s approach, with defense as our priority, puts our AutoDrive® autonomy platform front and center in handling the hardest conditions,” Araujo added. “We are confident in the DoD’s focus in this area and our business model sets us apart from our competitors which gives us the financial stability to innovate and grow.” Since its founding in 2002, Forterra (formerly Robotic Research) has led the development and deployment of ground autonomy systems in defense. Forterra’s technology has been operated on four continents and in over 10 countries. Forterra is the only company competing on all four DOD ground autonomy programs and the only firm currently producing driverless vehicles for the military. In fact, Forterra engineers helped DoD establish its driverless vehicle performance specifications.

The company’s AutoDrive® autonomy platform works across different vehicle types and in complicated environments. Forterra is the only autonomy company that uses NDAA-compliant components and is optimized to meet the mission requirements of the most stringent customers, such as the US Military. “Crescent Cove has been extremely proud to support the RRAI/Forterra team over the past two years,” said Crescent Cove Founder and CIO Jun Hong Heng, an investor in the company. “The essence of Forterra’s rebrand is captured by its promise to deliver autonomous mobility in the most complex driving environments.”

Forterra estimates that the total US defense market for ground autonomy will be worth over $4 billion by 2026. In 2023, Forterra booked four large contracts with the DoD, including the first production contract for self-driving systems in the US Military. The company’s success in rugged, off-road environments enabled them to deploy mature technology into the industrial markets. In 2023, Forterra won contracts to provide self-driving yard trucks to Truck Specialized Information Services (TSIS) at its Detroit freight facility and for driverless off-highway logging trucks with FPInnovations of Canada.

While both projects are initially small, the numbers are expected to grow in coming years. Forterra estimates the total commercial market – logistics centers and drayage/private roads – at $23 billion total. Forterra is currently running pilot programs with several Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and is fully booked for 2024.

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