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By Autocar Pro News Desk - Nov 13, 2017

Ontario province in east-central Canada and home to capital Ottawa is working on facilitating development of automated vehicles by launching the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN), in Stratford, Ontario.

The AVIN demonstration zone, which opened on November 8 is the first of its kind in Canada that will allow researchers to hone the technology and test an autonomous vehicle in a wide range of everyday, real-life traffic scenarios.

The facility was officially opened by Ontario’s Premier Kathleen Wynne with the province partnering with Ontario Centres of Excellence, which will bring together industry and academia to capitalise on the economic opportunities of connected and autonomous vehicles, while developing the emerging technology and infrastructure.

The Canadian government will invest $80 million (Rs 505 crore) over five years in AVIN, with around 150 companies and organisations already active in the province’s C/AV industry, that employs almost 10,000 people.

Two vehicles equipped with made-in-Ontario technology have recently completed North America’s first national, cross-border automated vehicle test drive. Along with the province’s plans to increase the number of post-secondary students graduating in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines by 25 percent over the next five years, to 50,000 per year. This will help it achieve the highest number per capita of post-secondary STEM graduates in North America.

According to Ministry of Economic Development and Growth (MEDG), government of Ontario, Canada the province is uniquely positioned to lead in C/AV technologies and to attract related investments and jobs. It is North America’s top vehicle-producing jurisdiction, and second only to California for information and communications technology companies.

It says the technology has the potential to improve road safety and fuel efficiency, minimise driver distraction, and reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to the demonstration zone, AVIN includes:

Research and Development Partnership Fund – to foster collaboration among automakers, technology leaders and Ontario-based small and medium-sized enterprises to develop and commercialize C/AV technologies. Collaborations may also involve post-secondary institutions and municipalities.

Talent Development Program – to support internships and fellowships for students and recent graduates with Ontario companies advancing C/AV technologies

Central Hub – a new online destination and specialised team to act as a focal point to conduct research, share information, build connections and raise awareness among industry, research institutions and other interested C/AV stakeholders.

Kathleen Wynne, premier, Ontario said, “AV technology is advancing at an incredible pace. There’s no doubt that the cars of the future will soon be our reality in Ontario and around the world. We have an opportunity to make sure our province is a global leader in this revolution, continuing to draw C/AV investment and jobs to Ontario with our highly skilled workforce. By drawing from our province’s tremendous pool of talent, we are bringing together academia and industry to develop the next generation of transportation technology — all right here in Ontario.”

Reza Moridi, minister, Research, Innovation and Science, said: “Ontario is a global leader when it comes to research and innovation, especially in areas fundamental to the next generation of vehicles, such as artificial intelligence, cyber-security and cloud computing. The newly created Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network brings these attributes together, so Ontario can continue to lead as we create the transportation solutions of tomorrow.”

“Connected and automated vehicle technologies demonstrate opportunities to enhance road safety and reduce traffic congestion and pollution. Ontario’s comprehensive approach, encompassing smart regulation and strengthening our innovation ecosystem, is ensuring the province proactively shapes and promotes emerging vehicle and transportation technologies to help meet our goals. AVIN is a significant step forward to ensure the investments and planning we are making in building Ontario’s transportation infrastructure network now meets the demands of the future,” said, Steven Del Duca, minister of transportation.

Brad Duguid, minister of Economic Development and Growth, said “This investment leverages Ontario’s expertise in connected and autonomous vehicle technology to define this sector’s long-term future. Our leading automotive and tech clusters, working alongside academic institutions, are creating the perfect conditions to develop, manufacture and adopt transformative technologies.”

Dr. Tom Corr, president and CEO, Ontario Centres of Excellence, said “Ontario is a global leader in both innovation and the auto sector, so it only makes sense that as we look to the future we continue to drive growth and opportunity in both of these areas by launching the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network. 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 connected and autonomous vehicles, while developing talent and supporting collaborations that will demonstrate and commercialise these technologies.”