Canada ranks seventh on a list of countries most prepared to welcome autonomous vehicles, according to KPMG.
It lags behind Netherlands, Singapore and the United States, which round out the top three, and Sweden, the United Kingdom and Germany.
The 2018 Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index evaluates each country based on policy and legislation, technology and innovation, infrastructure, and consumer acceptance.
Canada rates well on technology and innovation, with the highest possible score for industry partnerships and high scores on both research and development hubs and AV technology company headquarters.
It gains maximum marks on government-funded AV pilots, with the Province of Ontario having taken a particular lead as the only jurisdiction to have issued permits for AV testing on public roads.
In the last year, the province has issued seven autonomous testing permits to companies including Uber, tire-maker Continental, automotive supplier Magna and BlackBerry QNX.
“Our government has shown a forward-thinking commitment to building vital infrastructure that allows private-sector partners to push the boundaries of auto innovation,” Ontario Minister of Economic Development Steven Del Duca said in a statement to Automotive News Canada. “We are also increasing the number of STEM graduates each year by 25 per cent, which will make Ontario the North American leader in producing tech grads.”
Del Duca said Ontario has “the right ingredients” to make the province “a leader in next-generation vehicle technology and manufacturing.”
“Southern Ontario has a perfect ecosystem to support AV research and testing,” KPMG’s Gary Webster says in the report. “Its Waterloo-Toronto Innovation Corridor includes research universities and technology companies, convincing Uber and General Motors to move jobs there.”
General Motors of Canada sees Ontario's strength in advanced technologies as strategically important for its plans for creating safe, driverless vehicles in the near future, CEO Steve Carlisle said on Jan. 19, when he opened the company’s new software development centre in Markham, Ont. GM also plans to open a “mobility campus” in Toronto to complement other research centres it has in the province in Oshawa, Kapuskasing and Kitchener-Waterloo.
“Our team here in Markham has worked on what we call Super Cruise, which is an automated driving technology we have in our Cadillac CT6s today,” Carlisle said at the Jan. 19 event.
He said the Markham team is already involved in the next generation of infotainment systems, which are finding their way into the products on the road, and a driverless car pilot project that GM wants to run in 2019.
On infrastructure, KPMG said Canada is well-rated for roads and mobile networks, with its major telecoms providers successfully testing 5G network technology — “although other variables lead to a middling rank overall,” the report reads. Canada ranked 11th on infrastructure.
“Poor showings on infrastructure undermines the ambitions of the UK, Canada and New Zealand,” the report concluded.
The Canadian Press contributed to this report.