The auto industry is taking what is perhaps its biggest leap forward since Henry Ford invented the production line. Self-driving vehicles are lining up at the starting gate, ready to revolutionise the entire transportation sector.

It’s an exciting – and challenging – time for everyone involved in moving people and goods around the world, from fuel suppliers to car financing institutions. Nowhere is this technological effervescence more apparent than in Ontario today, where its Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) is endowing self-driving technology with an added boost.

Raring to Go

With an IT cluster that ranks second by size in North America, Canada is firming up its position as a pack leader for automotive excellence. Assembling over two million vehicles each year in its plants, backed by incentives that make auto-financing more affordable, Ontario is a natural crossroads for the driverless vehicle revolution.

Much autonomous technology is already slotted seamlessly into modern vehicles: self-parking and front-crash prevention systems need only minimal accelerator and brake control for the driver. Autonomous vehicles use exactly the same principles, underpinned by artificial intelligence, guided by global positioning system coordinates, and using sensors to detect the surrounding environment.

Ontario Takes the Lead

With a highly-trained talent pool and world-class institutions, Ontario is a natural destination for the autonomous vehicles segment. Today, it’s home to dozens of start-ups that work with cutting-edge technology:

  • AutoGuardian is making cities smarter – and safer! – through intelligent mobility solutions that can vary people to their destinations in eco-friendly ways. Autonomous turnkey shuttle operations work through advanced data collection. Safe operations are assured by visual and audio warnings that alert road users to approaching autonomous vehicles, whose routes are constantly monitored.
  • CyberWorks Robotics hence up the autonomous self-driving segment for tractors and other off-road vehicles, as well as lighter means of transportation, like wheelchairs and hospital beds. Its Retrofit Autonomous Vehicle System (RAVS) can retrofit manually-operated equipment with an AI-powered self-driving technology within a matter of weeks, and at a fraction of the costs of human drivers.
  • Gatik focuses on middle-mile logistics, already operating commercially in many markets in Canada and the USA. Its autonomous box truck fleets deliver goods efficiently and safely for many Fortune 500 retailers. It was acknowledged as a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer, and Also Featured on the Forms AI 50 List in 2021.
  • LeddarTech specialises in environmental sensing platforms and advanced driver assistance systems. During the past fifteen years, it has evolved into a comprehensive environmental sensing solution provider that helps its customers respond effectively to critical perception and sensing challenges across the entire mobility market.
  • NuPort Robotics is Canada’s first autonomous trucking business. Best suited for short shuttle runs between terminals, distribution centres, and warehouses, its proprietary AI technology can be retrofitted to conventional semi-tractor trailers, complete with high-tech controls and sensors, touchscreen navigation, and a collision and obstacle avoidance feature.
  • Provectus Robotics Solutions is an industry leader in cutting-edge robotic system design, control, and integration. Its software and services are used by industries as varied as aerospace and agriculture, with many industrial, military, and mining applications as well.
  • Sensor Cortek is focused on enhancing safety for autonomous and advanced driver assistance vehicles through AI. Its deep neural networks are designed to operate under adverse weather and lighting conditions – with Ottawa’s harsh winters providing the perfect proving grounds for high-definition imaging radars.
  • Untether AI produces AI chips that blend the power and efficiency of at-memory computing with the sturdiness of digital processing. Thanks to a recent funding round – oversubscribed at $25 million – this high-performance technology is now being extended out into the autonomous vehicle sector, together with other related markets such as the banking, financial and auto loan services, language processing, and many other fields.
  • Waabi focuses on a new generation of AI algorithms that blend probabilistic inference with deep learning and complex optimisation. The intention is to develop systems that can teach themselves to drive, regardless of the conditions.

As Canada moves rapidly to the forefront of the self-driving market, there is no doubt that its agile vehicle financing segment will soon be following suit. Self-driven cars have long been a staple element in science fiction. But what was once a comic book fantasy is quickly becoming a reality in Ontario.

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