Continental, Magna test driverless vehicles in cross-border journey
Two automated driving vehicles traveled more than 300 miles on July 31 before arriving in Traverse City, MI, as part of an international border demonstration by Continental and Magna. The demonstration began in southeast Michigan and culminated at the Center for Automotive Research’s annual Management Briefing Seminars. The vehicles crossed into Windsor, ON., before going north to Sarnia, Ont., and returning back into Michigan. This drive allowed Continental and Magna, as well as the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO), to test automated driving technology in a variety of settings.
Kirk T. Steudle, Director of MDOT, said, "Today's cross-border demonstration of an automated vehicle represents unprecedented collaboration between two nations and private industry." Also speaking of the unique drive, Tom Toma, Global Product Manager at Magna Electronics, commented, “With operations in both Ontario and Michigan, Magna can clearly see the benefits of cross-border collaboration as we have on this project.”
Through Continental’s Cruising Chauffeur function, the vehicles were able to take over driving tasks on various roadways in accordance with traffic regulations. When the Cruising Chauffeur technology is activated, Magna says data gets analyzed in a central control unit, called the Assisted & Automated Driving Control Unit (ADCU), which is then used to generate a 360-degree model of the vehicle’s surroundings. In combination with a high-resolution map, the system is designed to recognize all moving and static objects, as well as the layout of the roadway ahead. The drive was intended to demonstrate how the vehicles’ multiple camera, radar, and LiDAR sensors interacted while being driven underwater through the concrete Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and across the steel Blue Water Bridge. Continental’s automated driving technology includes six key elements: sensor technology, cluster connectivity, human-machine dialog, system architecture, reliability, and the acceptance of automated driving.
“Continental has been testing automated driving on public roads for more than five years, and our approach is a global initiative. The engineering teams are spread across locations in the U.S., Europe, China, and Japan to ensure driving and safety functions can be easily adapted to the individual regions as one comprehensive team effort,” said Jeff Klei, President of Continental North America. “Approximately 95% of all road accidents involve human error. Saving lives and reducing injuries will always be our priority in developing new technologies at Continental. That’s what we call our Vision Zero—our goal of having no fatalities and no injuries as a result of traffic accidents."
To mark the event as the latest example of partnerships in the Great Lakes region, MDOT and OMT signed a memorandum of understanding at the drive’s completion to further promote and foster growth of connected and autonomous technology testing and deployment, supporting both Michigan and Ontario’s economic interests and technological advancements by enabling job-creating growth for both jurisdictions. “Ontario is proud to be part of North America’s first national, cross-border test drive in our Automated Vehicle Pilot Program,” said Steven Del Duca, Ontario’s Minister of Transportation. “Today’s test drive is a great example of the continued collaboration and innovation between Ontario and Michigan. This new memorandum of understanding and our recent commitment of $80 million for an Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network signify the importance of a strong, cohesive partnership and continued investment in the development of AV/CV technologies and the mobility sector.”
This is the second such agreement between Michigan and Ontario, with this most recent partnership aimed at exploring rules and regulations as well as data collection and sharing. “The new agreement signed today with Michigan perfectly illustrates Ontario’s commitment to strengthening our partnerships across the United States,” said Brad Duguid the Minister of Economic Development and Growth, Government for Ontario. “The deep integration of the Great Lakes Automotive cluster helps foster industry-leading innovation and allows companies on both sides of the border to compete around the globe. We’re proud to be leveraging our shared ties to enhance a crucial, growing sector, and ensure a good future for workers in Ontario and Michigan alike.”
Both Michigan and Ontario have taken steps to ensure that the region remains competitive as the automotive landscape evolves. In 2016, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a package of bills enabling automated vehicles to operate on roads across the state. That same year, Ontario became the first province to set a regulatory framework to permit testing of automated vehicles, making it the only province to have an automated vehicle pilot program in Canada.
The following agencies assisted with the coordination of crossing the international borders: Canadian Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Detroit Windsor Tunnel, MDOT Blue Water Bridge, Canada Border Services Agency, and Federal Bridge Corporation. For more information about Continental’s Automated Driving project, visit http://www.continental-automated-driving.com/.