Windsor, London part of Ontario's autonomous vehicle program
Province to spend $80 million across Ontario over 5 years
Southwestern Ontario is now officially involved in a province-wide program for autonomous vehicle development and testing.
The Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network selected several communities in Ontario, each with a specific focus.
Cross-border driverless cars
Windsor and London are part of the southwestern Ontario hub, and will work on autonomous vehicle cybersecurity and cross-border technology.
"There will be investments made to foster research, to help entrepreneurs in the area ... to do testing, to perhaps link with larger companies that might be interested in investing or purchasing technology," said Stephen MacKenzie, CEO of the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation.
The Ontario Centres of Excellence made the announcement Wednesday with many partners, including WEEDC, the University of Windsor, St. Clair College, the City of Windsor and WETech Alliance. In London, those partners include the London Economic Development Corporation, Western University, Fanshawe College, the City of London and Tech Alliance.
MacKenzie called this opportunity an "economic development play" that may ultimately create tech jobs by turning this technology into different companies.
Since the federal government is building the new Gordie Howe International Bridge, and the Ambassador Bridge also plans to construct a new crossing, MacKenzie said the plan is to implement some of the autonomous technology on those two major projects.
"We're focusing on how this technology would be applied to international border interface," said Mackenzie, who called it a "terrific opportunity."
Ontario to spend $80M
Roughly $80 million in funding from the province will be split among the different regions over five years, and that money will be matched by industry partners.
Each city had to apply to be part of this project, submitting a proposal and outlining the region's assets.. The process took about eight months.
Autonomous road testing
In 2016, Ontario became the first province to permit on-road testing of automated vehicles. It's unclear at this point which communities, if any, will be testing driverless cars on the road.
Level 3 autonomous vehicles are already part of a partnership between Ontario and Michigan to test self-driving cars at border crossing — the two jurisdictions have signed a memorandum of understanding back in July.