Two of Canada’s major manufacturers, Ford and Magna, are investing millions of dollars in advanced research and development for connected vheicles and services and artificial intellingence.
Ford plans to expand its Canadian R&D presence with an additional $500 million investment extending its connectivity leadership with the addition of more than 400 software and hardware engineers and plans to establish a new Ottawa Research and Engineering Centre.
The additional 400 engineers, approximately 300 of whom will be based in Canada, more than doubles Ford’s mobile connectivity engineering team. By doubling the size of the team, Ford will accelerate its pace of innovation, expand services to leverage the potential of the connected vehicle ecosystem and extend its connected vehicle technology leadership.
Magna is commiting $5 million in artificial intelligence developments. The investment will go into the Vector Institute, a new independent AI research facility dedicated to cutting edge exploration of AI, specializing in the fields of deep learning and machine learning. The investment supports Magna’s AI strategy in manufacturing and autonomous driving.
Ford’s new Ottawa Research and Engineering Centre in Canada will focus on research and development across infotainment, in-vehicle modems, gateway modules, driver-assist features and autonomous vehicles. Additional facilities will be located in Waterloo and Oakville, Ontario, as well as Cary, North Carolina and Sunrise, Florida. This will be Ford’s first centre focused on connectivity research and advanced technology in Canada, and it will serve global connectivity needs for Ford.
“Connectivity is the critical component to the future of mobility,” says Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, global product development and chief technical officer. “Whether it’s providing information to help reduce congestion in cities, allowing vehicles and infrastructure to communicate to keep us safer on the road or simply knowing all your personal settings when you enter a self-driving vehicle, connectivity is the key. By more than doubling our connectivity talent and establishing a research centre, we can innovate faster and deliver more software and services to exceed our customer’s expectations.”
Magna’s AI strategy revolves around two key areas: manufacturing and autonomous driving. From a manufacturing standpoint, leveraging AI can provide human operators enhanced information for decision making and it can automate quality, sorting and material handling to help reduce production costs. AI-enhanced predictive maintenance systems can also enable effective error-free maintenance of equipment which ensures higher machine up-time. As future mobility continues to evolve, AI will play a major role in dynamic decision-making in autonomous driving. Object detection and classification combined with scene segmentation, including traffic volume, speeds and road conditions (weather, light and visibility), will be key attributes to self-driving capabilities.
“The automotive world is changing rapidly, reacting and innovating in response to massive technological advances,” says Don Walker, CEO of Magna International. “Canada is a leader in the potential game-changers of machine learning and AI, and we want to be at the forefront of its advancements in the automotive sector.”