As one of the world’s top technology hubs, Canada’s capital is a global leader in autonomous vehicles (AV) supported by the city’s powerful cluster of advanced networking, software and Internet of Things (IoT). Over 70 companies in Ottawa’s AV ecosystem, led by Blackberry QNX, contribute their expertise, technology and intelligence in the field of connected cars and autonomous vehicles (CAV). The worldwide economic impact of CAVs is estimated to reach $9.2 trillion CAD by 2050.
To further establish Ottawa as Canada’s CAV capital, the City of Ottawa and Blackberry QNX are collaborating with organizations including Invest Ottawa and the Kanata North Business Association, as well as researchers and academics at Algonquin College, Carleton University and the University of Ottawa.
With the expectation that self-driving cars will eventually become the norm, partners are working to ensure Ottawa leads the development of safety software and sensors. In 2019, they developed the L5 Test Facility, which became the first integrated CAV test environment of its kind in North America. The 16-kilometre (10-mile) test track for self-driving cars offers world-class integrated testing grounds for the safe implementation of CAVs, in Ottawa’s true four-season climate (from -37 degrees C in winter to +37 degrees C in summer).
In October 2020, Invest Ottawa announced nearly $17 million CAD in new investments to expand the facility and rebrand the innovation hub to Area X.O. The hub supports local, national, and global startups, SMEs, multinationals, and governments, in the creation, commercialization, and adoption of innovations in mobility, autonomy and connectivity.
New capabilities of Area X.O. include a 5G mobile command centre—the first of its kind—with drones that can deploy a standalone and secure 5G network without external connectivity. It also features cybersecurity technologies that help SMEs proactively enhance the security of their innovations.
Invest Ottawa, which manages the facility, said the financial and material investment will lead to the creation of as many as 200 new jobs, and solidify Canada’s capital reputation as a world leader in the development of self-driving vehicle technology. Private-sector partners such as Accenture, BlackBerry QNX, Ericsson, Microsoft and Nokia, as well as the City of Ottawa, will contribute up to $10 million CAD in equipment and services.
Each year, the CAV Canada conference is held in Ottawa with the goal to help the country capitalize on the CAV global market opportunity. The event, which is presenting a digital event series in 2020, showcases the safe development, commercialization and deployment of CAVs, and attracts innovators, companies, post-secondary institutions, and other organizations with emerging connected car and A/V tech knowhow. Past events also featured the chance for delegates to experience innovative CAV technology at the L5 Test Track in the Kanata North sector of Ottawa, home of Canada's largest tech park.
Visit Ottawa’s Autonomous Vehicles Cluster website for more information.