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$11-million autonomous vehicle testing facility launches in Ottawa

The Ottawa L5 Connected and Autonomous Vehicle test facility is the first of its kind in North America.
autonomous vehicle
Blackberry QNX autonomous vehicle on display at Ottawa L5 Connected and Autonomous Vehicle test facilities on May 17, 2019. Jenn Pritchard/Ottawa Matters

Invest Ottawa along with the Ontario government and other strategic partners launched the Ottawa L5 Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) test facilities at the Ottawa Greenbelt on Friday morning. 

More than three dozen small and medium companies will be using the private track to conduct safety tests and try out the new vehicle technology. 

The Ottawa L5 is values at more than $11-million, with $5-million coming from a provincial investment through the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network and more than $6-million from public and private partners including the City of Ottawa, the National Capital Commission, Microsoft, Blackberry QNX and Ericsson. 

The CAV being tested on the 16 km track includes the Blackberry QNX towncar, which is equipped with a special display that maps out the route and several sensors including a lidar. That piece of equipment is essentially a live stream for what is happening outside the vehicle at all times. 

Thousands of hours go into building these vehicles. 

"We are always ripping it apart from a software perspective, replacing sensors and again putting in all our technology and evolving our technology," explained VP of Products and Strategy at Blackberry, Grant Courville. "At the end of the day, this is sort of the building blocks of what you're going to see in the next gen (generation) cars." 



The testing facility being located in Ottawa is also ideal for companies looking to test their technology against mother nature, as the city is famous for having hot and humid summers and cold, harsh winters. 

"We gotta make this works in snow and rain and sleet," said Courville. "That's the next step as we evolve what we're doing, is making sure it works in all weather conditions." 


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