London and Windsor have been selected as one of six regional sites province-wide for autonomous vehicle development and testing.
Ontario’s investing $80 million into the so-called Regional Technology Development Sites (RTDS) as part of the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) project.
London and Windsor will make up the southwestern Ontario hub, with each city receiving $2.5 million.
The London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC), Western University, Fanshawe College, Tech Alliance and city of London will partner to test the technology in London.
“My hope with this program is certainly to have London on the map in terms of a place where technologies and products that have autonomous applications are being developed,” LEDC CEO Kapil Lakhotia said on The Craig Needles Show on Thursday.
“Historically, London and southwestern Ontario have had a strength in automotive manufacturing but that has come from parts manufacturing, auto assembly, and that kind of thing.”
Lakhotia added that the announcement does not mean self-driving cars will be roaming the streets anytime soon.
“It requires such a vast amount of regulatory approvals and certainly validation testing and all of those things in a real-world setting. It’s anybody’s guess in terms of when we would have live, on the street applications of that magnitude.”
The funding will be spread out over a five-year span across the six regions: Durham Region, Hamilton Region, Ottawa Region, Southwestern Ontario Region (London and Windsor), Toronto Region, and Waterloo Region.
In 2016, Ontario became the first province to allow the testing of automated vehicles on provincial roads.