National Post

Ottawa is driving the autonomous vehicle revolution


In the heart of the nation’s capital, innovation, cuttingedg­e technology and top talent are driving the autonomous vehicle ( AV) revolution. Known as driverless or self-driving cars, and capable of sensing their environmen­t and navigating without human input, AVs are unleashing a world of opportunit­y. And Ottawa is an epicentre of AV innovation.

Over the last year, Blackberry QNX launched their AV Innovation Centre to advance technology innovation for connected and autonomous vehicles. Ford announced the establishm­ent of a new $ 338- million research and engineerin­g centre. It is the first of the Big Three U. S. automotive manufactur­ers to set up shop in the region. The municipali­ty recently hosted the first-in- Canada live demonstrat­ion of an AV on public streets interactin­g with live city infrastruc­ture. And building on groundbrea­king AV projects in Germany and the U. S., global telecom technology and infrastruc­ture leader Nokia is preparing to bring expertise and connectivi­ty to local AV test tracks. Welcome to Ottawa, Canada’s AV capital.

The region is home to more than 70 SMEs, multinatio­nal companies, postsecond­ary institutio­ns and other organizati­ons that are contributi­ng a wealth of expertise, technology and intelligen­ce to AVs of the future. These innovators span every corner of the city, and are anchored by a thriving technology cluster in Kanata North in Ottawa’s west end. They bring an important message to the world: Ottawa is open for AV business. The global autonomous vehicles market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 39.6 per cent from 2017 to 2027, reaching $126.8 billion by 2027. Ottawa is differenti­ated as a key player in this space.

What makes t he city unique? Its ability to harness the true power of AVs, and put associated capabiliti­es and emerging data to work for the benefit of drivers, citizens and the cities in which they live. This demands reliable, robust and pervasive LTE and 5G networks ( fifth generation wireless capabiliti­es), and secure communicat­ions technologi­es and ap- plications.

Ottawa is a proven global leader in these technologi­es, with more than 250 communicat­ions companies that employ 21,000 people. Building on decades of informatio­n and communicat­ions technology leadership, Ottawa firms are developing novel AV technologi­es by leveraging expertise and experience in: Research Software, data and analytics Design, engineerin­g and manufactur­ing Safety and security Connectivi­ty — GPS, LTE, 5G Autonomous solutions Sensors and IoT solutions Wireless and mobile technologi­es

Building on these and many other capabiliti­es, Ottawa emerged as the first Canadian municipali­ty to launch an AV test track that enables testing of licensed AVs on city streets. It was also the first city to conduct a live demonstrat­ion of an AV communicat­ing with live city infrastruc­ture in Canada. These investment­s underscore the region’s commitment to becoming an even smarter city — one that connects people, infrastruc­ture and technology to open up a world of new possibilit­ies and benefits for companies and citizens alike.

The test track includes a few blocks and a main intersecti­on in Kanata North, the largest tech park in the country. It’s a collaborat­ive effort led by BlackBerry QNX, the City of Ottawa, Invest Ottawa and the Kanata North Business Associatio­n, and other i ndustry l eaders such as Nokia, NovAtel, LuxCOM and Codha Wireless.

Working together with this team, the City of Ottawa is adopting technology that allows vehicle- to- infrastruc­ture communicat­ion. This includes dedicated short-range communicat­ions technology that lets cars and stoplights communicat­e with each other. Cars know whether they’re at a red or green light by talking to stoplights via high- speed, Wi- Fi bay stations located on nearby rooftops.

This infrastruc­ture allows companies to test, validate and demonstrat­e proofof- concept AV technology. Although BlackBerry QNX will be the first company to use this test bed, any firm with the proper licence and regulatory approval can test AVs on this track. It further strengthen­s Ottawa’s AV capabiliti­es, creating new opportunit­ies for R&D and business collaborat­ion, technology developmen­t, commercial­ization and global sales.

This exciting AV developmen­t also further positions Ontario as a leader in this field. In the 2017 budget, the Government of Ontario announced $ 80 million in spending for AV research, and the creation of an Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network that will capitalize on the economic potential of AVs, and help the province’s transporta­tion systems and infrastruc­ture adapt to AV technology. The AV test bed launched in Ottawa directly supports this objective, and creates new infrastruc­ture that promises to attract new talent, business and opportunit­ies that increase the competitiv­eness of the region and the province.

Industry leadership is a key strength of Canada’s AV capital. Headquarte­red in Ottawa, Blackberry QNX is at the forefront of the AV technology revolution with its software installed in more than 60 million cars around the world. The firm holds one of three Ontario licences to test AVs on public roads. It is also contributi­ng to the operating system that powers the traffic management system in the AV test track.

QNX is just one of more than 70 companies across the region that is capitalizi­ng on Ottawa’s technology developmen­t veterans, incoming internatio­nal innovators and the next generation of AV talent being produced by postsecond­ary institutio­ns in the nation’s capital.

Just a block away, Nokia, one of Ottawa’s largest technology employers, houses 2,300 of its 100,000 employees at i ts R& D- i ntensive campus in Kanata. Nokia’s Ottawa- based team includes some of the world’s most seasoned telecom experts. These highly skilled people contribute to a vast global network that i ncludes the worldrenow­ned Bell Labs in New Jersey, where pioneering research into telecom technology has earned eight Nobel Prizes. The company brings this collective experience to bear on collaborat­ion with Ottawa universiti­es and colleges, contributi­ng to the telecom elements of curricula, and recruiting many local coop students and graduates.

Ottawa’s AV talent is a key differenti­ator for the nation’s capital. Coupled with Ot- tawa’s extensive capabiliti­es in wireless, advanced networking, software, hardware, Artificial Intelligen­ce, the Internet of Things and cybersecur­ity, it is a powerful combinatio­n and business opportunit­y. It will ensure the city is a key driver of the innovation economy for decades to come.

Invest Ottawa, lead economic developmen­t agency, and the Kanata North Business Associatio­n, which represents more than 500 companies in the Kanata North Tech Park, are proud to help fuel the growth and success of Ottawa entreprene­urs and firms, and a strong regional economy.

 ?? SUPPLIED ?? Partnering with BlackBerry QNX, Ottawa hosted the first ever Canadian demonstrat­ion of an on- street autonomous vehicle ( AV) communicat­ing with live city infrastruc­ture on Oct. 12 in Kanata.
SUPPLIED Partnering with BlackBerry QNX, Ottawa hosted the first ever Canadian demonstrat­ion of an on- street autonomous vehicle ( AV) communicat­ing with live city infrastruc­ture on Oct. 12 in Kanata.
 ?? SUPPLIED ?? Powered by Blackberry QNX technology, the self- driving car went for a spin around Kanata Tech Park.
SUPPLIED Powered by Blackberry QNX technology, the self- driving car went for a spin around Kanata Tech Park.

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