With potential benefits like fewer crashes, less time spent commuting, fuel savings, and reduced traffic on roads, the Conference Board of Canada suggests that the country could reap up to $65 billion in savings per year from autonomous vehicle developments.
While the future impact of this technology will eventually drive major changes for those working in fields like transport; truck, courier, taxi and bus services; auto insurance; and vehicle parking, this isn’t only a career story about the future. There are already 150 Ontario companies and organizations involved in the autonomous and connected vehicle industry that employ a total of 10,000 employees. These firms, research centres, and universities are playing a key role in moving self-driving car technology forward. Here are just a few of the interesting advances related to autonomous vehicles that illustrate how Ontario is helping steer the future of this game-changing technology.
Uber’s not just focused on getting you where you need to be today. The company is also thinking about the future with significant investment into self-driving car research. In May 2017, Uber announced it would open a research group devoted to driverless car technology in Toronto. The project is being led by renowned University of Toronto computer scientist, Raquel Urtasun. Keep an eye out on the streets around the University of Toronto and you may even spot one of the two autonomous Uber cars that are driving themselves. Don’t panic, though, there is always a driver behind the wheel that can switch the vehicle from autonomous to manual mode as needed.
October 11, 2017 marked an important milestone in Canadian transportation when the first self-driving vehicle was tested on a public road. BlackBerry QNX was the company that made this historic day in Ottawa possible. It is one of the over 70 companies in Ottawa’s autonomous vehicle ecosystem. The BlackBerry QNX Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Centre (AVIC) was unveiled in 2016 with a goal of accelerating connected and self-driving vehicle technology by developing production-ready software. While the name BlackBerry may be synonymous with smartphones, BlackBerry QNX has been supplying software to the automotive industry for over a decade that can be found in more than 60 million vehicles today. Given that cars will soon carry one of the highest concentrations of Internet of Things edge nodes and sensors and generate a vast amount of data, Blackberry is investing in technologies that will power the core electronics of connected and autonomous cars.
SAE’s AutoDrive Challenge
The SAE’s AutoDrive Challenge is a three-year autonomous vehicle competition that has eight North American teams competing to develop and demonstrate a full autonomous driving Chevy Bolt EV. Both the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo have teams competing. From 2017 through 2019, the teams will work with real-world applications of sensing technologies, computing platforms, software design implementation and advanced computation methods such as computer vision, pattern recognition, machine learning, artificial intelligence, sensor fusion and autonomous vehicle controls.
Aurora, Ontario-based auto parts giant, Magna’s MAX4 technology is an autonomous-driving electronic platform that can be used on existing vehicles as well as future electric and hybrid cars and trucks. The platform can enable up to Level 4 autonomous driving capabilities in both urban and highway environments. Level 4 automation is only achieved when the vehicles can perform all safety-critical functions for the duration of a trip with the only input from a driver being related to the destination or navigation. Most vehicles on the road today equipped with some automation features are classified as Level 1 or Level 2, which means they require active monitoring by the driver.
Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN)
The Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) Demonstration Zone in Stratford is the first of its kind in Canada and will allow researchers to hone autonomous vehicle technology and test vehicles in a wide range of everyday, real-life traffic scenarios. In addition to the Demonstration Zone, AVIN offers a Research and Development Partnership Fund, a Talent Development Program, and a Central Hub that will serve as a catalyst for conducting research, sharing information, and building connections amongst industry, research partners, and other stakeholders.
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