Ontario has taken a step in the future of driving by putting autonomous vehicles on the road for the first time. The Canadian automotive landscape still has a way to go before they catch up to other innovative competitors around the world.
A pilot project involving cars developed by the University of Waterloo, the Erwin Hymer Group and BlackBerry QNX have started operating on Ontario roads, reports the CBC. Here is a full description of each vehicle involved in the pilot project:
– The University of Waterloo will be operating a Lincoln MKZ hybrid sedan, dubbed Autonomoose.
– The Erwin Hymer Group, an international automaker with a research centre in Waterloo, will be testing a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van.
– BlackBerry QNX will test a 2017 Lincoln and will be developing its software in association with the pilot project.
In a statement, executive director of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence Barrie Kirk said:
“Within Canada this is a first and it’s a very important first.
At an international level we have a lot of catching up to do, When I look at the G7 countries, we in Canada are dead last in developing self-driving cars. This is a big and important step forward, but we need a lot more deals like this.”
Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca arrived in Waterloo this morning for the announcement of the pilot project. He even arrived in an autonomous car!
Earlier this year, Ontario became the first province in Canada to permit the testing of self-driving vehicles. This morning, Del Duca called the technology the future of driving, and he even believes that the rollout of self-driving cars will make Ontario’s roads safer. He said:
“For Ontario, the benefits of being part of automated vehicle technology are clear — increased road safety, managed congestion, minimized driver distraction and easier movement of goods and services.”
Kirk agreed with Del Duca’s comments and claimed that self-driving cars will be “much safer” than human-driven vehicles.
The province has announced that it will be investing $2.95 million over the next 10 years to further innovation and creation in this space. Del Duca said:
“An automated vehicle supply chain is coming and we want those jobs to be here in the province of Ontario.”
This year, Canada’s federal budget actually included money for Transport Canada to develop standards and regulations for autonomous vehicles. The self-driving car industry has been growing rapidly over the past few years, and the pace of innovation continues to grow at an exponential rate. The Canadian automotive industry has a lot to in order to catch up to the big players.
Google, Tesla, and Audi, just to name a few, have been making tremendous strides in the area of self-driving cars. Ford has even said that it will have an autonomous vehicle in commercial production by 2021.