The first connected car made with Canadian technologies has arrived, thanks to a collaborative project supported by OCE and led by the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA).
Unveiled this spring, the connected car contains six OCE-supported technologies that enhance safety or improve the way drivers receive information and connect with other vehicles and the world around them. The 2014 Lexus RX 350 used was donated by Toyota Canada and transformed into a connected car by project partners QNX Software Systems and the University of Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research (WatCAR).
The project was not only a significant technological success, but an achievement in cross-sector collaboration.
“Building a vehicle today is the model of collaborative effort, requiring the coordination and input of suppliers across a spectrum of technologies – all of these technologies must come together in a system that delivers reliable, durable, flexible and safe transportation at an accessible price point,” says John MacRitchie, Regional Director, Business Development Operations, Central Ontario at OCE. “Connected vehicle technologies that create a smarter car require an additional level of collaboration – going beyond mechanical and electrical connections to share information between various systems within the vehicles, between vehicles and between vehicles and external networks.”
Both industry leaders and high-tech start-ups contributed features to the APMA connected vehicle, with 13 companies participating in total. Technologies installed in the car include an early warning system that alerts drivers of approaching emergency vehicles and other urgent situations, and a platform that delivers environmental data to drivers in real-time.
The connected car also showcases technologies from six companies supported by OCE:
- XYZ Interactive’s GestureSense provides low-cost, touchless control and 3D gesture recognition technology
- Pravala Networks’ end-to-end networking platform connects the car to the cloud, providing fast, reliable and secure connectivity using 3G, Wi-Fi and Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC)
- Intelligent Mechatronic Systems’ DriveSync Connected Car Platform delivers voice-powered infotainment services as well as safety and convenience telematics services
- Leggett & Platt Automotive Group’s Helios wireless charging system allows drivers to charge smartphones and other devices
- Alcohol Countermeasure Systems’ ALCOLOCK device tests the breath alcohol level of drivers before allowing the engine to start
- Tyco Electronics’ controlled ambient lighting system gives drivers the ability to control interior lighting levels and colours and have the lighting respond to vehicle and environment changes
OCE is supporting the development of connected car technologies in Ontario through the CVAV Research Program, a partnership of the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of Research and Innovation and OCE.
“We have the research and industry experience in computing software and hardware, in communications technologies, and in the auto sector for Ontario companies to grab a much larger share of this growing segment of the automotive industry,” says MacRitchie. “The CVAV program helps to support the early steps in new product development, de-risking these steps for the companies involved. It also helps to bring companies together and connects companies with researchers in Ontario who can accelerate their product development.”
Connected car initiatives such as the CVAV Research Program and APMA connected car project provide an opportunity for Ontario and Canada to demonstrate its capabilities in the global connected car market, which is expected to reach USD $131.9 billion by 2019. APMA plans to showcase its connected vehicle to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in North America, Europe and Asia.
In Ontario, connected car projects will encourage economic growth by creating jobs in advanced manufacturing, engineering and ICT, amongst other industries.
“Delivering the complete, integrated systems that OEMs need from Ontario companies will help to transition our auto manufacturing sector to sustain and grow its importance in this global industry,” says MacRitchie. “Job creation depends upon these companies successfully delivering new products demanded by global OEMs and consumers.”