Province to spend up to $5M on Ottawa autonomous vehicle testing site

Autonomous vehicle
BlackBerry conducted Canada's first on-road test of an autonomous vehicle in October 2017 (OBJ file photo)

Ottawa will receive up to $5 million from the Ontario government to further the city’s work in connected and autonomous vehicle testing, the province announced this week.

The capital is one of six regions receiving a slice of $80 million in spending aimed at advancing the province’s AV development over the next five years.

The funding, which will be allocated to Invest Ottawa, comes from the Ontario Centres of Excellence’s Autonomous Vehicles Innovation Network (AVIN) program.

A backgrounder from Invest Ottawa states that the project will further on-road testing in the Kanata North tech park, where BlackBerry conducted the first demonstration of an autonomous vehicle on a public street in Canada last year.

Funding will also go towards developing a private test site for AV tech and networks, as well as fund entrepreneurship programs to commercialize Ottawa-made technology and systems.

Several partners are joining the regional economic development agency in developing the test site: post-secondary institutions such as Carleton University, University of Ottawa and Algonquin College; local businesses including IBM Canada, BlackBerry, Nokia, Juniper Networks and Ericsson; and public sector entities such as the City of Ottawa and the National Capital Commission.

The backgrounder also purports that the project will create new jobs in the AV sector, though no specific numbers were given. It adds that the test site will benefit homegrown AV technologies while attracting international talent, companies and investment.

Each regional testing site, which also includes Toronto, Waterloo, Durham, Hamilton and a joint partnership between London and Windsor, will receive up to $5 million over the five years. The remaining $50 million in spending will be divided between a provincial talent development program, an R&D fund, a central AVIN hub and a demonstration zone.

The announcement comes just ahead of the official start to the provincial election, scheduled for June 7.