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Autonomous cars: a Québec City company in the race among the giants

A Québec City company has equipped a Toyota RAV-4 with nearly $300,000 worth of patented state-of-the-art technology to conduct autonomous driving tests. The vehicle has been modified to incorporate the LeddarTech technology platform used to develop autonomous driving. LeddarTech chose this particular model because its electronic systems allow for more flexibility for research and development purposes.

The original article (in French only): TVA Nouvelles

“This is no ordinary vehicle. For us, it’s a laboratory,” says Pierre Olivier, chief technology officer.

This futuristic-looking car with its multiple cameras and lidars for object detection and distance measurement always causes quite a stir

“What’s funniest is the reaction of people who are curious about technology. To do our testing, we look for places where there are a lot of pedestrians. When we drive along Rue Saint-Jean or in a Costco parking lot, people stop and stare,” says Olivier.

Like the shift from horse to car

Right now, autonomous driving—i.e., without driver intervention—is only possible in a controlled environment. For us, that means the Quebec Metro High Tech Park. The other places we have visited have primarily been for data collection. LeddarTech has two other vehicles of this type in Israel and plans to deploy the system worldwide, Olivier explains.

In three years, the RAV-4 has been put through 10,000 km of road testing. The aim is to collect as much data under as many conditions as possible to serve as input for the algorithms.

According to Olivier, the automotive industry is on the cusp of a revolution on par with the transition from horse to motor vehicle—and LeddarTech intends to play an active role in the changeover.

A good omen

“We have customers that are among of the biggest players in the world. That’s good news for the future,” adds Olivier.

LeddarTech, founded in 2007, sells its cutting-edge technologies to manufacturers that incorporate them into their products.

The company’s solutions are deployed in self-driving shuttles, trucks, buses, delivery vehicles, and so on.

“We don’t see ourselves as a Tesla competitor. Tesla is an automotive manufacturer that develops its own driver assistance and automated driving software, while most other manufacturers turn to technology suppliers such as LeddarTech,” Olivier concludes.