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Ottawa L5 puts Nokia in the (self)driver’s seat

Here in North America, much of the attention paid to the emerging business of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) has centered on webscale companies and upstart automakers in Silicon Valley, or auto industry stalwarts in and around Detroit. But another center of CAV innovation has emerged north of the border in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa.

In recent years a strong ecosystem of autonomous vehicle players has grown up in and around the Ottawa River Valley, and this development took a massive step forward this Spring with the launch of the Ottawa L5 CAV Testing Facility, a collaboration led by Invest Ottawa and a group of research institutions, labs and companies, including Nokia.

Ottawa L5 is essentially a city in microcosm, and a smart one at that. Covering more than 1800 acres and featuring 16 kilometers of paved roads, the facility incorporates all of the elements you’d expect in a modern urban setting, from traditional elements like roads and streetlights, turning lanes and crosswalks. It also includes emerging technologies like smart light poles with built in sensors and small cells, providing high-speed wireless access and delivering data critical for smart city services. Sensors in roadways and other roadside infrastructure track weather conditions, road surface temperature, moisture levels and more.

The CAV test environment at Ottawa L5 isn’t limited to cars, but also includes smart buses, autonomous shuttles and even drones, to provide the most realistic setting to design and evaluate systems to control and manage traffic on the ground, between different types of vehicles and even in the air.

For Nokia, one of the critical pieces of this equation is the ‘C’ in CAV, specifically ‘connectivity.’ While the industry moves toward fully autonomous vehicles, most if not all vehicles will benefit from and often rely upon high-speed data links to perform key functions such as software upgrades, sharing of data between vehicles and roadside infrastructure - to anticipate sudden changes in traffic flow or provide real-time alerts about unexpected developments such as icy roads - and to gather other kinds of information and telemetry to help manage their operations.

Toward this end, the entire Ottawa L5 facility is covered by a state-of-the-art wireless broadband network deployed by Nokia, which incorporates 4G/LTE, 5G technology and Wi-Fi connecting vehicles to one another and with adjacent smart city infrastructure. This network already supports an expansive selection of applications and services, and lays the foundation for the introduction of many more.

The Ottawa L5 was officially inaugurated on May 17 at an event for both local and national officials, partners, media and prospective customers with an interest in utilizing these best-in-class facilities. Want to find out more? Please download our case study to learn more about Nokia’s collaboration with Invest Ottawa to bring the Ottawa L5 project to fruition.

And please visit our website to learn how Nokia can help make cities smarter.

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokiaindustries using #smartcity

Shawn Sparling

About Shawn Sparling

Shawn currently leads Nokia’s efforts to bring mission-critical networking capabilities to industries and public sector organizations across Canada. He has more than 28 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, half of which he spent on overseas postings in Europe, China and South East Asia, in roles encompassing operations, R&D, sales and marketing. Shawn is a graduate of Queen’s University, Ontario with a B.Sc. Honors in Engineering. In his spare time Shawn enjoys adventure sports like white water rafting, dirt biking and jet boating.

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