Invest WindsorEssex unveiled Thursday its latest digital twin project; a 3D version of the Windsor Detroit Tunnel which will be a testing ground for connected and automated vehicle (CAV) testing.
The Virtual Reality CAVE for Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Technologies launched in the region in 2019, and previously created a digital twin of the Project Arrow vehicle, a zero-emission Canadian made concept vehicle.
Now, the newly created virtual reality tunnel will allow Invest WindsorEssex and partners to explore how automated vehicles cross the international border.
"The digital twin is capable of a multitude of different types of testing scenarios, and that's what makes it unique," said Ed Dawson, senior manager of automobility and innovation at Invest WindsorEssex.
"So if you think about an automated vehicle crossing an international border, there are many considerations to take into effect. So as a result, we're able to do them safely, cost effectively, and in this environment."
Dawson said researchers can, for example, put an animal in the tunnel to see how that automated vehicle would react or how a collision would be dealt with.
The unveiling coincided with a visit from Helena Jaczek, the minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. FedDev previously invested $5-million in 2019, "to grow an automobility innovation cluster" in Windsor-Essex with funds going to various organizations and businesses in the region.
"This milestone project was one of several projects funded through that initial investment," said Matthew Johnson, executive director mobility partnerships and innovation at Invest WindsorEssex.
"This is the first digital twin of an international border crossing in all of North America."
While in the region, Jaczek announced a $1-million investment to local company Dimachem — a cleaning chemical manufacturer — to expand its facility.
The company is expanding to create Clorox's Pinesol products and added 27 new jobs, according to Andrew Conway, vice president of the company.