Techopia Live: Ottawa gears up for Canada's first on-road autonomous vehicle demo

Editor's Note

Read OBJ's subsequent coverage of the event here: 


Kanata’s credentials as the autonomous vehicle capital of Canada will get a major boost tomorrow during the country’s first test of a driverless car on public roads.

Thursday’s demo, featuring a BlackBerry QNX vehicle, will also mark the first time an autonomous vehicle will be connected to city infrastructure on Canadian roads, said Jenna Sudds, the executive director of the Kanata North Business Association.

“Tomorrow (will be) a very exciting day here in Ottawa,” she says.

To preview the event, Techopia Live chatted with Sudds, BlackBerry QNX’s Grant Courville and Invest Ottawa’s Blair Patacairk about the significance of tomorrow’s demo.

Local economic development officials have been keen to brand Ottawa, and Kanata in particular, as a hub for autonomous vehicle technology.

In December 2016, BlackBerry said it was pouring $100 million into its QNX division to create an autonomous vehicles innovation centre and add 650 jobs in the region.

More recently, automotive manufacturer Ford said earlier this year that it would hire hundreds of BlackBerry employees and spend $337.9 million to create an Ottawa Research and Engineering Centre focused on developing autonomous driving technology.

Thursday’s test drive will take place along a stretch of Legget Drive between Herzberg and Farrar roads. Spectators are asked to gather at the Mitel parking lot at 350 Legget Dr. before 1:30 p.m.