Tuesday marked the official grand opening of the Autonomous Vehicle Research & Intelligence Laboratory (AVRIL), a facility located on the University of Waterloo’s campus.
AVRIL is a shared research space offering the opportunity to work on automated driving, vehicle connectivity, and advanced driver assistance systems. The university’s new facility is meant to offer a space to work on a wide variety of mobility applications.
Current projects include autonomous passenger vehicles, driverless shuttles, industrial robots, and commercial trucks.
Construction on the AVRIL research facility began in late 2018, with financial support from both federal and provincial governments. At the time, the construction was slated to be completed by the summer of 2019. The facility, which consists of 7,050-square-feet, has been up and running for limited use since November, with Tuesday marking the first day that the space is fully operational.
According to the University of Waterloo, both levels of government provided around 20 percent of the funding for the $4.5 million project, with the university supplying $3 million. The financing reportedly came from the Government of Canada through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), which provided $1 million in funding, with half for equipment, including a driving simulator and driverless shuttle, and the other half for construction costs. The provincial government funding came through the Ontario Research Fund: Research Infrastructure.
The facility includes 10 truck height work bays, a driving simulator with a 210-degree immersive screen, and level two chargers for electric vehicles. Projects currently taking place at the facility include autonomous passenger vehicles, driverless shuttles, warehouse and industrial robots, autonomous field platforms, and commercial trucks.
The University of Waterloo’s campus offers an opportune location for the autonomous vehicle research facility. Blackberry has been increasing its efforts in connected autonomous vehicle offerings with Blackberry QNX, making a number of partnerships, most recently with Ottawa-based L-Spark. Blackberry has long been supporting the Ottawa community, which launched the Ottawa L5 Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Test Facilities in May. The 16-kilometre track and facilities are a testing ground for autonomous vehicle technologies, having been called the first its kind in North America.
Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group (ATG), which focuses on self-driving transportation, also has its headquarters in nearby Toronto. Lead by Raquel Urtasun, Uber ATG’s chief scientist, the group has been testing safety measures and new technologies for autonomous vehicles in the region for the past couple of years.