Ontario is aiming to become a go-to destination for developing automated vehicles (AVs) by launching the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) in Stratford, where its unique demonstration zone will be the first of its kind in Canada to allow researchers to test AVs in a wide range of everyday, real-life traffic scenarios.
The province is partnering with Ontario Centres of Excellence in the AVIN facility, which will bring together industry and academia to capitalize on the economic opportunities of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), while developing the emerging technology and infrastructure.
Ontario is uniquely positioned to lead in CAV technologies and to attract related investments and jobs, as the province is North America’s top vehicle-producing jurisdiction, and second only to California for information and communications technology (ICT) companies.
In addition to the Demonstration Zone, AVIN includes a:
Research and Development Partnership Fund, to foster collaboration among auto makers, technology leaders and Ontario-based small and medium-sized enterprises to develop and commercialize CAV technologies. Collaborations may also involve postsecondary institutions and municipalities;
Talent Development Program, to support internships and fellowships for students and recent graduates with Ontario companies advancing CAV technologies;
Central Hub, a new online destination and specialized team to act as a focal point to conduct research, share information, build connections and raise awareness among industry, research institutions and other interested CAV stakeholders.
The government is investing C$80m (US$62.6m) over five years in AVIN, as it sees CAV technology as having the potential to improve road safety and fuel efficiency, minimize driver distraction, and reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.
More than 150 Ontario companies and organizations are already active in the province’s CAV industry, employing almost 10,000 people. At the end of July this year, two vehicles equipped with Ontario-made technology recently completed North America’s first national, cross-border automated vehicle test drive, with the Magna International and Continental Automotive AVs crossing into Michigan.
“Ontario is a global leader in both innovation and the auto sector, so it makes sense that we continue to drive growth and opportunity in both of these areas by launching the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network,” explained Dr Tom Corr, president and CEO of Ontario Centres of Excellence.
“Through developing AVIN, OCE has worked with the Ontario government and our partners to ensure that this investment will help prepare our infrastructure, technology, transportation systems, and auto sector, for the future of CAVs, while developing talent and supporting collaborations that will demonstrate and commercialize these technologies.”