Posted on December 1, 2016
Ontario Positioned to be Global Leader in Autonomous Vehicle Market
If you ask anyone what the Erwin Hymer Group, Blackberry QNX and the University of Waterloo all have in common, drivers in Toronto and Mississauga will know they’re all located just an hour’s drive or so west of here. But now with just a teeny bit of pride, we can also add that they’re spearheading the launch of autonomous vehicle tests in our very own Ontario.
Autonomous vehicles coming to Ontario roads may be surprising news to some, but since Ontario is the prime sub-national jurisdiction to house five global leaders in automotive assembly – of which Chrysler is one, our province has the distinction of being a top North American vehicle producer.
So as Blackberry QNS, the U of Waterloo and The Erwin Hymer Group prepare for different levels of automation in the upcoming driverless technology tests, the rest of us can sit back and come to grips with Ontario joining the ranks of Uber Autonomous Vehicle Tests in Pittsburgh, Otto Driverless Trucks in Colorado, and the overall effect on the automotive world that autonomous vehicle technological innovation is having.
From an innovation and growth perspective, it’s nothing short of ingenious. According to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, “the pilot brings together a range of expertise from the research, manufacturing and technology sectors to advance innovation and capability in Ontario’s AV sector. The pilot will help attract and enable research and development in Ontario in this emerging industry, positioning the province as a global leader in the AV market.”
Here’s how the Waterloo-based participants are leading the charge:
- The WATCar Project at U of Waterloo will monitor and test on-road performance of a Lincoln MKZ at different automation levels
- The Erwin Hymer Group will test and monitor a van at different levels of automation
- Blackberry QNX will test the automated features of the test vehicle
Joel Adams, director of engineering for Erwin Hymer Group North America, told CBC News this week that his vehicles are really all about the journey:
“We think it’s the ideal platform for an autonomous vehicle. Google has little bumper cars that just hold one or two people in them, we think it’s going to be a much more social environment,” suggested Adams. “Where you can take along your entire family – not in five bumper cars, but in one Erwin Hymer Group RV.”
And since many of their RVs are purchased in California and driven up through varied terrain to Alaska, what better place to test the AV technology than in rugged Ontario with four distinct seasons?