A highway in Ontario, Canada at night

These Ontario, Canada companies are paving the way for autonomous roads

Autonomous driving has long existed as a science-fiction ideal for transportation. But what was once a futuristic dream is coming into reality.

Driver assisted parking

In fact, the basis of autonomous technology is already in use in modern vehicles. According to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, autonomous vehicles are “capable of detecting the surrounding environment using artificial intelligence, sensors and global positioning system coordinates.” Consider the front-crash prevention system and cars that can park themselves, needing a driver to control only the acceleration and brake pedals.

Extraordinary advancements are on the horizon, and the industry is evolving at a rapid pace. Many forward-thinking organizations and companies are preparing for the next frontier of transportation in Ontario, Canada.

Levels of Driving Automation

Ontario has always been at the forefront of automotive excellence. In 2018 alone, two million vehicles were assembled in the province, making it the second-largest assembler in North America. Similarly, Ontario dominates as the second-largest IT cluster in North America. With these two strengths, Ontario is at the perfect cross-section for the autonomous vehicle revolution. In addition, the province’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) initiative gives an extra boost to accelerate innovation for self-driving technology.

With world-class post-secondary institutions, a large and diverse talent pool and R&D and testing facilities like Area X.O and GM’s CTC McLaughlin Advanced Technology Track (CTC MATT), acceleration for autonomous vehicles is building in Ontario.

Below is a sample of ten companies that are developing technologies for an autonomous future in the province.

Acerta turns complex product data into actionable insights for automotive and off-highway vehicle manufacturers

Kitchener, Ontario

Co-founded by Greta Cutulenco—one of 2019 Forbes’ 30 under 30 for Manufacturing and Canadians to Watch by Automotive News—Acerta uses data science, Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to unlock hidden value contained within production data. Initially, Acerta worked with the University of Waterloo’s award-winning engineering R&D labs, conducting ground-breaking research into pattern recognition and anomaly detection. Today, the automotive and off-highway vehicle industries use Acerta’s cloud-based software to detect the earliest indicators of product failures and improve part quality. Acerta’s ML/AI platform solves issues previously deemed too challenging to solve in precision manufacturing.

AutoGuardian by SmartCone makes cities safer and smarter

Ottawa, Ontario

AutoGuardian provides intelligent mobility solutions to get people to their destination in a safer, smarter and more eco-friendly way. It’s unique offering includes turn key autonomous shuttle operations with the added capabilities of IoT-enabled intelligent infrastructure. This allows for both advanced data collection and alerting vulnerable road users to the presence of oncoming shuttles through audio and visual cues with full monitoring of the shuttles’ routes. These intelligent warning systems give motorists, C/AVs, cyclists and pedestrians the time they need to act and be safe. By providing an extra set of eyes, AutoGuardian helps further push the world into an automated future.

Cyberworks Robotics makes fully autonomous vehicles a reality

Markham, Ontario

An automated agricultural tractor

Cyberworks Robotics is a leader in autonomous self-driving technology for off-highway vehicles and mobile commercial equipment ranging from driverless agricultural tractors to wheelchairs to hospital beds. The Cyberworks Robotics Retrofit Autonomous Vehicle System (RAVS) provides OEMs the unique, reliable and affordable opportunity to transform existing manually operated machinery into AI-powered self-driving technology within weeks rather than years. Cyberworks licenses its self-driving technology to OEMs and large fleet clients at a fraction of the cost of human drivers. Given the versatile nature of their technology, Cyberworks Robotics makes full autonomy a reality for specialty vehicle OEMs and fleet owners around the world.

Gatik spearheads autonomous middle-mile delivery

Toronto, Ontario

Gatik, the market leader in autonomous Middle Mile logistics, delivers goods safely and efficiently using its fleet of light- and medium-duty Autonomous Box Trucks. The company focuses on short-haul, B2B logistics for Fortune 500 retailers such as Loblaw and Walmart. Gatik’s fleet is operating commercially in multiple markets including Ontario, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. Founded in Palo Alto in 2017 by veterans of the autonomous technology industry, the company has established a long-term presence in Ontario, and opened the doors to a new world-class R&D facility in the west end of Toronto in 2021. Gatik was recognized on the 2021 Forbes AI 50 list and as a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer.

LeddarTech Delivering ADAS and AD Sensing Solutions

Toronto, Ontario

LeddarTech is a leader in environmental sensing platforms for autonomous vehicles and advanced driver assistance systems. Founded in 2007, LeddarTech has evolved to become a comprehensive end-to-end environmental sensing solution company by enabling customers to solve critical sensing and perception challenges across the entire value chain of the automotive, off-road, industrial vehicle, and mobility market segments. With its LeddarVisionTM sensor-fusion and perception platform and its cost-effective, scalable, and versatile LiDAR development solution for automotive-grade solid-state LiDARs based on the LeddarEngineTM, LeddarTech enables OEMs, Tier 1-2, and automotive system integrators to develop full-stack sensing solutions for autonomy level 1 to 5. The company’s solutions are actively deployed in autonomous shuttles, trucks, buses, delivery vehicles, smart cities/factories, robotaxi applications and in development with leading automotive Tier’s and OEMs. In addition, LeddarTech is responsible for several innovative automotive and mobility remote-sensing applications, with over 100 patented technologies (granted or pending) enhancing ADAS and autonomous driving capabilities.

NuPort Robotics simplifies short-haul shuttle runs

Toronto, Ontario

NuPort Robotics is the first autonomous trucking company founded in Canada. Their proprietary AI technology allows existing trucks to drive autonomously and is best suited for short-haul shuttle runs between distribution centres, warehouses and terminals. In March 2021, NuPort Robotics announced a $3-million partnership with national retailer Canadian Tire Corporation and the Ontario government through AVIN to undertake a two-year project. NuPort Robotics will apply their proprietary AI technology to retrofit two conventional semi-tractor trailers with high-tech sensors and controls, obstacle and collision avoidance, a touchscreen navigation system and many more innovative features. NuPort Robotics does not plan on slowing down anytime soon—co-founder and CEO Raghavender Sahdev expresses his determination to “establish Canada as the leading country for autonomous vehicles in the world.”

Provectus Robotics Solutions turns any vehicle autonomous

Ottawa, Ontario

Provectus Robotics Solutions Inc. is the industry leader in advanced robotic system design, integration, and control. Located in Ottawa, ON, Canada, the company delivers robotic control software and services to the aerospace, agricultural, industrial, mining, military, and security industries. Since 2010, Provectus has participated in design and development activities on many different robotic platforms, while delivering systems to customers worldwide. Provectus’ experience and mature technology base are why it is the preferred development partner for robotic system integrators all over the world.

Sensor Cortek improves safety for autonomous vehicles

Ottawa, Ontario

To ensure the safety of autonomous vehicles, they must be able to precisely and impeccably detect environmental conditions. Sensor Cortek is on a mission to improve safety for advanced driver-assistance and autonomous vehicles with AI. With the help of AVIN, Sensor Cortek partnered up with French automotive supplier Valeo to build high-definition imaging radars with deep neural networks that can operate under unideal lighting and weather conditions. Ottawa, Ontario’s climate makes it an optimal location for the company to build a large dataset of radar imaging in different urban driving situations. “Winter driving condition[s] are often neglected, probably because most R&D activities in AV [are] being performed in regions having milder climates such as California,” says Sensor Cortek CEO Dr. Robert Laganière. “We are very excited to be a player in this new automotive revolution.”

Untether AI builds innovative AI chips

Toronto, Ontario

Founded in 2018, Untether AI develops revolutionary AI chips that combine the power efficiency of at-memory computation with the robustness of digital processing. In July 2021, the company announced an oversubscribed $125-million funding round led by Tracker Capital, a technology-focused venture capital investor. The funding was co-led by Intel Corporation’s global investment organization and Intel Capital and included contributions from Radical Ventures and CPP Investments. With this funding, Untether AI can extend its ultra-efficient, high-performance technology to the autonomous vehicle industry, along with other markets such as banking and financial services, natural language processing, smart city, smart retail and much more.

Waabi revolutionizes autonomous vehicle technology

Toronto, Ontario

The word “Waabi” has a couple of different meanings. It translates to “the beauty of simplicity” in Japanese and means “she has vision” in Ojibwe. Hence, “Waabi” perfectly encapsulates Dr. Raquel Urtasun’s startup—she has a vision of how to solve self-driving with a much more streamlined, simple stack. The University of Toronto professor is building a “new generation of AI algorithms that combine deep learning, probabilistic inference and complex optimization,” which allows the system to teach itself to drive under any conditions. This approach is faster, cheaper, and safer than other traditional methods. The company received $83.5 million in a Series A funding led by Khosla Ventures—one of the largest rounds of its kind in Canada. As only the third woman in the world to lead an autonomous vehicle company, Dr. Urtasun hopes to encourage other women to join and diversify the industry. She also wishes to propel Canada as a powerhouse in self-driving. “We have an amazing opportunity here and I think we have the talent here,” she said. “I love this country and I love the city of Toronto. This is the place I want to be, so it’s a no-brainer….People always ask, ‘Why Canada?’ My answer is always, ‘Why not?’”

Read 10 self-driving companies to watch in 2019.

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