Self-driving cars not just the stuff of sci-fi fantasy

March 27, 2014

Driverless vehicles and cars connected to an information-sharing grid may sound like the stuff of science fiction but they are real and they could be coming to Ontario highways sooner than you think.

Ontario Centres of Excellence, on behalf of the province’s Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Research and Innovation, has launched a $1-million program aimed at helping businesses and academic institutions develop and commercialize innovations in connected and autonomous vehicle technologies.

The Connected Vehicle/Autonomous Vehicle (CVAV) Research Program will invest in innovative new transportation technologies that make Ontario’s roads smarter, safer and more sustainable.

The program brings businesses and academic institutions together to develop and commercialize innovations in connected and autonomous vehicle technologies with a focus on projects with high commercialization potential. Projects can receive up to $250,000 over a maximum of two years. Funds must be matched with cash and in-kind.

“This partnership with the government will foster innovation and the growth of next-generation technologies in Ontario, says Dr. Tom Corr, OCE’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Through strategic investments, the CVAV Research Program will result in dynamic partnerships that take research and development in this area to the next level.”

The program is a partnership between the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of Research and Innovation and the Ontario Centres of Excellence.

Connected vehicles use wireless technology to connect with other vehicles, transportation infrastructure and mobile devices to give motorists the information they need to drive more safely. Autonomous vehicles, also known as self-driving vehicles, rely on sensors and computer analytics to sense their environments and navigate without human input.

Research projects will be in the area of connected and autonomous vehicles and should demonstrate an immediate benefit to either the vehicles themselves or their surrounding infrastructure through the development of novel products or services.

“This program is going to be a showcase for some of the most innovative research being done in the area of connected and autonomous vehicles anywhere in the world,” says Reza Moridi, Minister of Research and Innovation. “The projects flowing from this program will not only make Ontario a technology leader, it will create and sustain jobs in the automotive sector.”

Topics that will receive the highest consideration include products, services and standards to reduce driver distraction; communications management; data management; connected vehicle technology and improving traffic operations and management.

“We are proud to help our partners develop new technologies that improve Ontario’s highways and roads and make our province a leader in connected and autonomous vehicles,” says Glen Murray, Minister of Transportation and Minister of Infrastructure. “These innovations will help people move more safely and easily while creating jobs now and in the future.”

The program builds on the successful 2011 Connected Vehicle Research Program, which awarded seven research grants to Ontario universities to explore connected vehicles.

Helping the province's transportation industry grow and succeed is part of the Ontario government's plan to invest in people, invest in infrastructure and support a dynamic and innovative business climate.