François Adam is executive director of the Innovative Vehicle Institute (IVI), a non-profit organization that supports businesses through research, development, and implementation of innovative technologies in the transport industry. We met with him to discuss the organization as well as autonomous transportation and what Quebec should expect from the new technology.
Tell us more about IVI’s mission and your hands-on, day-to-day work with Quebec transportation enterprises. What services do you provide?
The Innovative Vehicle Institute is one of Quebec’s 59 College Centres for the Transfer of Technology (CCTT). Our goal is to help businesses that want to develop innovative products using state-of-the-art technology. Our team of some 30 people provides a number of services to enterprises, including applied research, technical assistance, and specific training programs for a variety of projects in innovative transportation—in both electrification and autonomous vehicles.
How does IVI stand apart from other Quebec organizations in the electric and intelligent transport industry?
We put knowledge to practical use. We help enterprises and transfer our knowledge to them. IVI was one of the first organizations in Quebec to take an interest in transportation electrification. We’ve been conducting tests since 1996!
Three years ago, we created ARION, a research and development program specialized in navigation systems that helps Quebec companies adapt to the arrival of autonomous vehicles. We are at the forefront of knowledge on intelligent vehicles.
What is Quebec known for in autonomous transportation?
We are truly innovative in the types of vehicles we manufacture. We are very advanced in the manufacture of specialized vehicles and special mobile equipment, which has earned us international recognition.
Quebec—and especially Montreal—is a large artificial intelligence and deep learning hub. Quebec researchers are rapidly updating technologies that are at the foundation of autonomous driving.
The province is also very innovative in its development of optics-photonics—sensors that detect movement and read road signs.
What are the potential benefits of autonomous transportation for Quebec?
It would improve safety. Humans make mistakes that can have serious consequences. Autonomous transportation will greatly reduce the number of car accidents.
The biggest benefit isn’t, however, for individuals, but rather for public transportation. Collective services and specialized vehicles will be able to carry out very specific tasks without a person’s help. It will certainly be a major revolution.
Is the province well prepared for these new technologies?
No, absolutely not. We see it every day at IVI: Quebec businesses have a lot to do to get ready for the arrival of transportation electrification and autonomous driving technologies. Small businesses have a long way to go.
We also have to focus on training both today’s and tomorrow’s workforce. There are not enough applicants for us to open up training programs in educational institutions, but perhaps the number would rise quickly if the programs existed. Right now, it’s the chicken or the egg. However, I do believe interest will spike in the next few years. We have to start preparing for it now!