Windsor wants to become test site for self-driving vehicles

Partnering with the region’s university and colleges, the city is making a pitch to Ford of Canada to become next test site for autonomous vehicles.
Self-driving cars are expected to be on most roads by 2020, say major automakers. (Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters)

Bringing self-driving vehicle testing to cities like Windsor, Ont. will take a concerted effort from all levels of government, say city officials.

Windsor is one of the latest Canadian cities vying to become a site for autonomous vehicle testing. Partnering with the region's university and colleges, the city is making a pitch to Ford of Canada in a letter expected to be sent out next week.

But Coun. Irek Kusmierczyk insists a successful bid also relies heavily on lawmakers who need to pave the way by creating appropriate legislation.

The United States has already invested in autonomous driving. The University of Michigan launched a test city for that technology in Ann Arbor, Mich. 

Kusmierczyk enviously looks at progressive support for self-driving vehicles that exists in the United States. 

Winsdor city Coun. Irek Kusmierczyk (Geoff Nixon/CBC)

"On this side of the border, we really need to get all hands on deck," he said. "We really need the federal, provincial and municipal leaders as well as industry to really put forward a national strategy that includes autonomous vehicles."

Ontario has already opened to doors to autonomous vehicle testing, allowing the technology to be tested on its roadways as of Jan. 1.

The provincial government also pledged an additional $500,000 to the Ontario Centres of Excellence Connected Vehicle/Automated Vehicle Program, which pairs academic institutions with businesses to further transportation technology.

Windsor stands a good chance to attract companies like Ford, explained Tony Faria, auto analyst at the University of Windsor. The city's size and proximity to the U.S.-Canada border make it an ideal location.

Tony Faria, co-director Office of Automotive and Vehicle Research at the University of Windsor. (CBC)

"Windsor would be a natural for this type of testing," he said. "We're a medium sized city, which I think is far better than a large metropolitan area such as Toronto."

Mayor Drew Dilkens recognizes Windsor has stiff competition from other southern Ontario communities, but he remains confident his city has a shot.

"There's lots of competition here, no doubt about it, we just think we're unique in terms of our geography and our location on the border," he said.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?