UWaterloo team tests first automated car in Ontario
The Autonomoose test car will progressively be equipped with automated features by a team from various departments at the University of Waterloo.
A team of researchers at the University of Waterloo have something to celebrate. They unveiled a high-tech car, nicknamed Autonomoose, that will be used in a pilot program to test automated vehicles on Ontario roads.
“Today, I think we begin to write the future of a made-in-Ontario success story,” said Steven Del Duca, the Minister of Transportation, who noted the car was effectively driving itself when they arrived.
A team of researchers from Waterloo won approval to test the Lincoln MKZ hybrid sedan on all public roadways in the province as part of a three-year effort to bring fully autonomous vehicles much closer to reality.
The Autonomoose test car will progressively be equipped with automated features by seven professors from three Waterloo Engineering departments, as well as two colleagues from the Cheriton School of Computer Science, working under the umbrella of the Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research (WatCAR).
“It is truly a collaborative effort,” said Pearl Sullivan, dean of the Faculty of Engineering.
The Waterloo test car includes technologies such as radar, sonar and lidar, plus both inertial and vision sensors. It is fully connected to the Internet and features powerful computers to process and analyze data.
It already has automated features such as adaptive cruise control to maintain a safe distance from other vehicles without driver intervention. By the end of the three-year project, researchers hope to have added several more advanced features.
Specific research areas include improving automated driving in all kinds of Canadian weather, optimizing fuel efficiency to reduce emissions and designing new computer-based controls.
Also approved for the testing program, which requires a licensed driver behind the wheel at all times, were the Erwin Hymer Group, which manufactures Roadtrek motorhomes in Kitchener, and BlackBerry QNX, a global software developer.
“Having vehicles out on the road is going to be what takes innovation really, truly to the next level, beyond the research phase and into the hands of consumers,” said Joel Adams of the Erwin Hymer Group, which will do testing with a large Mercedes-Benz van.
Daiene Vernile, MPP for Kitchener-Centre and parliamentary assistant to Del Duca, cited a forecast by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers that autonomous vehicles will account for 75 per cent of all vehicles on the road by 2040.
“This is the future,” she said. “Welcome to the future.”