As a leader in real-time computer simulations to support global manufacturers of vehicles, airplanes, and electric power infrastructure, Quebec-based OPAL-RT Technologies knows how to simulate new technology.
“Autonomous vehicles create new challenges for car manufacturers: they must now prove that the machine can drive just as well, if not better than, a human, and test the car itself for safety,” says Yanique Martin, Director of R&D at OPAL-RT, who explains the company was approached by a major car manufacturer to develop testing systems for autonomous vehicles.
“So, instead of the usual 20 million miles needed to test a new car, the manufacturers need to do 20 billion miles of testing. You simply can’t do that fast enough to get to market quickly.”
This was a completely new field, using technologies that are not yet commonplace, so OPAL-RT needed to develop a new generation of simulators that can test vehicle systems before they’re put on the road. Since building these new simulators required advanced skills, the company turned to Mitacs to connect them to the top research talent for their needs.
Working with Mitacs gave OPAL-RT access to students who are conducting cutting-edge research. They had special expertise that the company didn’t have, adding layers of artificial intelligence and automation needed to get the platforms to market. The company has hosted over a dozen interns, many of whom are now full-time staff.
“By partnering with Mitacs,” concludes Martin, “we can make our funds go further and develop our technology faster, all while getting access to the best talent around. And at the end of the day, we also get a new product that makes our clients happy.”