Ottawa develops autonomous-vehicle test facility

Private, gated facility part of National Capital Commission Research Farm

Published: May 19, 2019, 5:30 PM
Updated: November 21, 2021, 2:53 PM

Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Vehicle testing

Canada has its own autonomous vehicle test facility, with the recent announcement from Invest Ottawa, the Government of Ontario and other strategic partners, of the Ottawa L5 test facilities for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV).

Located in the National Capital region greenbelt, the Ottawa L5 is a 755-hectare private, fenced and gated facility as part of the National Capital Commission (NCC) Research Farm. It’s being called the first of its kind in North America.

“Autonomous vehicles and the Smart cities they drive in will only reach their full potential if the industry comes together to address future pot holes that will come from a lack of cybersecurity and data privacy,“ said John Wall, senior vice-president and co-head of BlackBerry Technology Solutions, one of the strategic partners. “The Ottawa L5 provides the perfect forum to help address these challenges and ensure that the technologies that will drive our shared autonomous future are both safe and secure.”

Located on the former Ottawa Biotechnology Incubation Centre, between Kanata and Nepean, the Ottawa L5 features a 16-km paved track to mimic a connected “Smart” city — Smart intersections, pedestrian crosswalks, 1-way traffic roads, bike lanes, high-definition cameras, sensors for motion acoustics and climatic conditions (temperature, humidity, wind, pressure, etc.), and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications, among others.

The Ottawa L5 also includes a 9-km public test loop at Kanata’s North Technology Park (the largest technology park in Canada), featuring intersections enabled with dedicated short-range communications (DSRC), nine pedestrian crosswalks, five camera and sensors zones, and V2X communications. A 5.2-km high-speed test loop is also in the works for future development at the facility.

Initially announced in May 2018, the Ottawa L5 is currently valued at more than $11-million Canadian, with $5 million coming from an Ontario-government’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) program grant, and the remainder coming in-kind contributions from Accenture; Avanade; Blackberry QNX; the City of Ottawa; Ericsson; Juniper Networks; the National Capital Commission (NCC); Microsoft; and Nokia. The initiative is also supported by Ottawa’s education facilities — Algonquin College, Carleton University and University of Ottawa.

“The launch of the Ottawa L5 CAV Test Track is a prime example of how dynamic and forward-thinking the automotive technology sector is in Ontario,” says Dr. Tom Corr, President and CEO of the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE). “This initiative is a part of AVIN, which OCE is proud to deliver on behalf of the Government of Ontario and their Driving Prosperity plan, which aims to bring good jobs and enhance Ontario’s global competitiveness in automotive innovation.”