Bringing self-driving vehicle testing to cities like Windsor, Ont. will take a concerted effort from all levels of government, say city officials.
Windsor is one of the latest Canadian cities vying to become a site for autonomous vehicle testing. Partnering with the region’s university and colleges, the city is making a pitch to Ford of Canada in a letter expected to be sent out next week.
But Coun. Irek Kusmierczyk insists a successful bid also relies heavily on lawmakers who need to pave the way by creating appropriate legislation.
The United States has already invested in autonomous driving. The University of Michigan launched a test city for that technology in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Kusmierczyk enviously looks at progressive support for self-driving vehicles that exists in the United States.
“On this side of the border, we really need to get all hands on deck,” he said. “We really need the federal, provincial and municipal leaders as well as industry to really put forward a national strategy that includes autonomous vehicles.”
Ontario has already opened to doors to autonomous vehicle testing, allowing the technology to be tested on its roadways as of Jan. 1.
The provincial government also pledged an additional $500,000 to the Ontario Centres of Excellence Connected Vehicle/Automated Vehicle Program, which pairs academic institutions with businesses to further transportation technology.
Windsor stands a good chance to attract companies like Ford, explained Tony Faria, auto analyst at the University of Windsor. The city’s size and proximity to the U.S.-Canada border make it an ideal location.
“Windsor would be a natural for this type of testing,” he said. “We’re a medium sized city, which I think is far better than a large metropolitan area such as Toronto.”
Mayor Drew Dilkens recognizes Windsor has stiff competition from other southern Ontario communities, but he remains confident his city has a shot.
“There’s lots of competition here, no doubt about it, we just think we’re unique in terms of our geography and our location on the border,” he said.