Keynote speaker Ray Tanguay says Ontario poised to lead autonomous vehicle revolution

As the Canadian International Autoshow is about to begin in Toronto, let's take a look at January's Automobili-D, which gave visitors a glimpse of the automotive future at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Ray Tanguay, former CEO of Toyota Canada and current auto advisor to the province of Ontario, delivered the keynote address reflecting on how Ontario is well-positioned to take advantage of the car of the future.

Tanguay explained that the car of the future will require lightweight materials, mobile communications, sensors and controls, software development, cybersecurity and advanced battery research – all fields in which Ontario is currently a leader. "In the end it's about selling our value proposition to the world," he said.

He noted that while development has been fast, it must be faster to keep up with increasing customer expectations. "Cars can go fast, but management has to be faster." He added while researchers are rapidly developing new technology like autonomous cars, infrastructure must keep up. "If you have smart cars in a dumb city it's not going to work too well," Tanguay joked.

Cars of the future

Ontario appears well positioned for the car of the future as the home to the second largest IT cluster in North America as well as the largest car manufacturing centre. With 15% of North American cars produced here already, Ontario could dominate the autonomous vehicle revolution. Already many Ontario companies are changing the way we drive.

As cars become increasingly computerized and connected, it raises the question of cybersecurity for cars. Ontario-headquartered BlackBerry has emerged as a leader in the field, with a 60% share of the automotive cybersecurity market. At Automobili-D Blackberry CEO John Chen unveiled BlackBerry Jarvis, a new cybersecurity product that helps automakers secure their software supply chain. "Connected and autonomous vehicles require some of the most complex software ever developed," he explained, "creating a significant challenge for automakers who must ensure the code complies with industry and manufacturer-specific standards while simultaneously battle-hardening a very large and tempting attack surface for cybercriminals."

Magna International, supplier to manufacturers ranging from General Motors to Toyota to Tesla, also introduced a new technology at the show, its Icon Radar system. It predicts the advanced military-grade radar system will help bring autonomous vehicles to the masses sooner rather than later. Icon has a range of almost 300 metres and can scan its surroundings 50 times faster than a human can blink.

The car of the future will depend on talent and technology, qualities Ontario is known for. "People will invest where the talent is," Tanguay said. "We can develop solutions that will be beneficial to business, whether it's deep-machine learning or artificial intelligence. We will take your problem and give you a solution that you will have a hard time finding anywhere else."

February 22, 2018
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