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Communitech chosen as development site for self driving vehicles

They have plans to create the first open 3D mapping community
Ontario allows self-driving cars on provincial roads for testing purposes
WATERLOO, Ont. — Ontario will allow testing of self-driving cars on provincial roads starting next year, but only with a human operator who can take over in case of problems.

Communitech was chosen as one of six Regional Technology Development Sites (RTDS) for the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN). The network is Ontario's way of providing resources to autonomous vehicle companies based in the province.

Chosen based on the Region's strong private sector and academics, the company is partnering up with the University of Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research and the Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation as part of their proposal to AVIN.

Kevin Tuer is the Vice President Strategic Initiatives at Communitech who are taking a different approach to autonomous vehicles. While other private tech companies guard their technology and keep it to themselves, Communitech and their partners will be approaching it openly.

As a RTDS, Communitech and their partners will be creating the first open high-definition 3D mapping communities. 

"We believe that the right way to go is to create this community, this open mapping community and to start with the Waterloo Region and again we see that as spurring much development," Tuer said.

These mapping technologies allow the car to "see" the world around them and make navigation decision. The software is making progress, but still struggle with environmental factors from rain to leaves. According to Tuer, by providing an open platform, it allows for innovation and take advantage of the Region's strong tech sector.

"The inclusion of start-ups and scale-ups, for instance, from our community to be able innovate on top of these maps and create new capabilities and functions and capacity," Tuer said.

According to Tuer, autonomous vehicles are still years off from appearing in our everyday lives. However, he was optimistic about their future.

"The rise of technology, computing power, 5G networks and the like. We have all the building blocks coming into place at a relatively fast pace and so it may be quicker than we all expect."

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