Ottawa city councillor wants Kanata to be autonomous vehicle hub

Kanata North councillor Coun. Marianne Wilkinson is asking city staff to research how Ottawa could become ground zero for Canada’s foray into driverless vehicles.

“We already have a group of companies that are doing things connected to the transportation industry, so if we can build on that and encourage more of it by having a centre of excellence we should be able to increase the number of jobs,” said Wilkinson.

Wilkinson’s motion, due to come up at the next council meeting, asks city staff to compile a report on establishing Ottawa as an industry “centre for excellence” by April.

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In September, the province’s mandate letter to the transportation minister included establishing a centre of excellence for autonomous vehicles by 2018.

The long-term objective of establishing a centre in Ottawa would be to position the city as a “national software hub for autonomous vehicles.”

The motion also asks that the City of Ottawa request the provincial government to work with the city “in approving testing of autonomous and driverless cars on public roads in Ottawa.”

While the technology is moving fast, don’t expect to see cars driving themselves anytime soon on the 417, said Wilkinson. The technology being developed in Ottawa by businesses like QNX is much more aligned with “assisted driving” and focused on improving safety.

“That’s what will come first,” said Wilkinson. “Things in your car like if you swerve out of your lane it’ll let you know, or things in your car that warn you of a stop ahead, that kind of thing. You’ll still be driving the car.”

This article originally appeared on Metro News.

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