Researchers from Waterloo Engineering shared the spotlight yesterday as Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne officially announced Stratford as the home of a testing zone for the development of self-driving vehicles.
Wynne spoke with Professor Krzysztof Czarnecki and eight student researchers who were on hand with two highly automated cars – the Autonomoose and a similar Lincoln MKZ sedan that is being developed with Renasas Electronics – to show off the technology.
The selection of Stratford as a testing zone is part of a five-year, $80-million commitment by the province to establish the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) to advance research and development in the field.
“AV technology is advancing at an incredible pace,” Wynne said in a media release. “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 – right here in Ontario.”
The testing zone in much of Stratford will feature technology that enables automated vehicles to communicate with other vehicles and to infrastructure such as traffic lights, all while operating on regular streets with normal traffic in a full range of weather conditions.
'An incredible, complementary resource'
Ross McKenzie, managing director of the Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research (WatCAR), said Waterloo Engineering researchers expect to begin using the zone next year for their own ongoing projects and to test technology developed by outside companies.
“It’s an incredible, complementary resource for us,” he said. “We have labs, we have brains, we have access to a local test track and now we have a real-world testing area. That’s a powerful package of resources to do meaningful research.”
Miovision, a Kitchener-based company founded by three Waterloo Engineering graduates, is providing traffic infrastructure technology as one of several industry partners in the initiative.