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Ontario, Michigan partnering on cross-border transportation technologies

August 20, 2021  By Rock to Road Staff

Ontario and Michigan are expanding their longstanding collaboration through a new partnership to advance automotive, transportation and mobility technologies to help people and goods move safely and efficiently across the border by land, air and water, the province said in a press release.

“Ontario is proud to collaborate with our partners in Michigan as global leaders in automotive innovation,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford. “By breaking down barriers to cross-border business and further integrating our research, testing, and supply chains, we will unleash tremendous opportunity for the autotech sector in Ontario and Michigan.”

The Ontario government, through Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN), and the State of Michigan, through the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to explore the implementation of a cross-border testing environment that will further support the commercialization and adoption of auto and transportation technologies in Ontario.


Goals of the collaboration include:

  • Identifying the potential economic, social and environmental benefits from increased collaboration in automotive and transportation technologies between Ontario and Michigan.
  • Identifying issues and challenges for both people and goods related to specific types of border crossing (by land, air and water) and how transportation technologies could offer solutions.
  • Exploring the regulatory and policy considerations involved.
  • Developing a roadmap for implementation, including steps to establish cross-border pilots for transportation technologies.

Combined, Ontario and Michigan are responsible for about 22 per cent of North America’s automotive output, the province said. The two jurisdictions share a highly integrated automotive supply chain, with vehicle parts crossing the border several times before rolling off the assembly line in finished vehicles.

In addition, many companies operate on both sides of the border, with engineering expertise and technology innovation shared between the two autotech hubs.

RFP process underway

As a first action under the new MOU, a joint Request for Proposals (RFP) is now underway to study and analyze the economic potential of expanded border capacity and other benefits that can be achieved by leveraging advanced automotive and smart mobility solutions at international border crossings. The closing date for RFP submissions is September 13, 2021. For further information, please visit AVIN’s RFP page or MDOT’s eProposal site.

Quick facts

  • In 2017, Michigan and Ontario collaborated on North America’s first cross-border automated vehicle test drive.
  • Ontario has more than 300 companies and organizations pioneering connected and autonomous vehicle technologies. This ecosystem is strengthened by the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN), led by the Ontario Centre of Innovation. It connects the province’s world-leading automotive and technology sectors, high-quality post-secondary institutions, first-class talent and regional infrastructure to support entrepreneurship and create jobs.
  • Ontario’s 2021 Budget announced further support for the auto sector by investing C$56.4 million over the next four years to build on the successful elements of AVIN and create the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN). OVIN’s expanded mandate will help foster the next generation of electric, connected and autonomous vehicle and mobility technologies in Ontario.
  • Ensuring southwestern Ontario is prepared for future growth and the introduction of new technologies like connected and automated vehicles is part of Ontario’s draft transportation plan for southwestern Ontario.
  • More than half of Michigan’s automotive suppliers conduct automated vehicle testing in the state. Michigan offers more than 600 miles of roadway equipped for connected vehicle testing, and it is building the road of the future with a new 40-mile connected corridor project being led by MDOT and the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification.
  • In 2020, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer created the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification. It works across state government, academia and private industry to enhance Michigan’s mobility ecosystem, including developing dynamic mobility and electrification policies and supporting the start up and scale up of emerging technologies and businesses.
  • For 2020, two-way goods trade between Michigan and Ontario was valued at C$60.1 billion (US$44.8 billion). The state and province are each other’s top export customer. This trade relationship supports thousands of jobs on both sides of the border.
  • More than 25% of the more than $700 billion in annual trade between the U.S. and Canada crosses the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor and Detroit, the most active border crossing in North America.


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