Self-driv­ing cars to start tak­ing tun­nel to Detroit

Dilkens an­nounces au­tonomous ve­hi­cle joint ini­tia­tive be­tween bor­der cities

Windsor Star - - CITY+REGION - DALSON CHEN dchen@post­

The Wind­sor-Detroit tun­nel could be­come the best place on the con­ti­nent to test the bor­der-cross­ing abil­i­ties of self-driv­ing cars and trucks, ac­cord­ing to a new ini­tia­tive be­tween the two cities.

On Fri­day, Wind­sor Mayor Drew Dilkens held a press con­fer­ence at the tun­nel’s Cana­dian plaza to an­nounce plans to at­tract au­tonomous ve­hi­cle de­vel­op­ment to the cross­ing.

“There are lots of test sites around the world, work­ing on im­por­tant is­sues re­lated to au­tonomous ve­hi­cles,” Dilkens said. “But no one in North Amer­ica is work­ing on cross-bor­der au­tonomous ve­hi­cle test­ing like we are propos­ing to­day.”

For those who think driver­less ve­hi­cles are more science fic­tion than re­al­ity — just wait un­til Mon­day morn­ing, when the Min­istry of Trans­porta­tion will hold a lo­cal demon­stra­tion of au­tonomous cars on a cross-bor­der route.

Start­ing on Wind­sor’s river­front at 8 a.m., two ad­vanced self-driv­ing ve­hi­cles — a Chrysler and a Cadil­lac — will em­bark on an all-day trip that will take them across the Detroit River to cul­mi­nate in Tra­verse City, Michi­gan.

On­tario’s Min­is­ter of Trans­porta­tion, Steven Del Duca, and fed­eral Min­is­ter of In­no­va­tion, Science, and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, Navdeep Bains, will be at­tend­ing.

Dilkens said Mon­day’s demon­stra­tion won’t be the first time an au­tonomous ve­hi­cle has used the Wind­sor-Detroit tun­nel: One took a con­trolled test run ear­lier this year, and an­other test oc­curred as re­cently as this past week.

“We’ve al­ready started,” Dilkens said. “This is one thing that’s unique to us, that’s au­then­tic to Wind­sor-Detroit — one area where we think we can make a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence in terms of the evo­lu­tion of the tech­nol­ogy.”

Mark de la Vergne, the City of Detroit’s chief of mo­bil­ity in­no­va­tion, and Peter Frise, for­mer sci­en­tific di­rec­tor of the Uni­ver­sity of Wind­sor’s AUTO21 re­search net­work, were present at Fri­day’s news con­fer­ence.

They agreed with Dilkens that cross­ing an in­ter­na­tional bor­der is an ad­vanced sce­nario in the realm of au­tonomous ve­hi­cle tech­nol­ogy — ripe with unique chal­lenges.

“That’s what this project is re­ally about,” Frise said. “Mak­ing that leap from the re­search and de­sign lab to on-the-road op­er­a­tion where it can af­fect the econ­omy and im­prove the lives and safety of Cana­di­ans and Amer­i­cans on both sides of the bor­der, ev­ery day.”

Dilkens said the City of Wind­sor will be ap­ply­ing through On­tario’s Cen­tres of Ex­cel­lence pro­gram to be a part of the Au­tonomous Ve­hi­cle In­no­va­tion Net­work.

The net­work has a to­tal of $80 mil­lion in fund­ing to dis­trib­ute over a five-year pe­riod. The City of Wind­sor is hop­ing to se­cure $3 mil­lion on an an­nual ba­sis.

“We think that’s a rea­son­able amount,” Dilkens said. “The tech­nol­ogy is evolv­ing and ad­vanc­ing ev­ery sin­gle day. We’re go­ing to have to be able to keep up with the times.”

Dilkens said his of­fice and the Detroit mayor’s of­fice have also been com­mu­ni­cat­ing with com­pa­nies in­volved in au­tonomous ve­hi­cle de­vel­op­ment, such as QNX.

“There is great in­ter­est,” Dilkens promised.

No one in North Amer­ica is work­ing on cross-bor­der au­tonomous ve­hi­cle test­ing like we are propos­ing to­day


Mayor Drew Dilkens, left, was joined by Peter Frise from the Uni­ver­sity of Wind­sor for a news con­fer­ence at the en­trance to the Wind­sor-Detroit Tun­nel Fri­day to an­nounce the pro­posed test­ing of self-driv­ing cars at the bor­der cross­ing, the first...

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