IWE hosts Minister Jaczek to unveil Canada’s first virtual international border crossing for CAV tech testing

WINDSOR-ESSEX, ONTARIO (April 21, 2022) – Today, Invest WindsorEssex (IWE), the lead economic development organization for the Windsor-Essex region, hosted the Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and Irek Kusmierczyk, Member of Parliament for Windsor-Tecumseh, to experience Canada’s first virtual international border crossing for connected and automated vehicle (CAV) testing.

Together with FedDev Ontario, the City of Windsor and Windsor Detroit Borderlink Limited, IWE unveiled one of the region’s newest test tracks for cross-border CAV technology and infrastructure simulation.

Through IWE’s leadership and the support of FedDev Ontario, IWE’s Automobility and Innovation department created a digital twin (3-D representation) of the Windsor Detroit Tunnel using light detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology. The LIDAR scan was completed by CMF Group and Site Management System and the digital twin was deployed in the Invest WindsorEssex Virtual Reality CAVE (VR CAVE): Canada’s largest publicly accessible VR CAVE. Creating a virtual design of the Windsor Detroit Tunnel allows the IWE team to work with companies to simulate how an automated vehicle crosses the border. This is one step along the journey which will eventually result in automated vehicles being able to pass safely through the heavily-travelled international border crossing.

Testing automated vehicles in a real-world environment poses many challenges. Using a digital twin and virtual environments allows companies to simulate how their sensors, vision systems and on-board cameras will operate in order to keep vehicles and their occupants safe.

In addition, this virtual environment provides industry, government and researchers the ability to field test the deployment of upcoming technologies in a cost-effective manner, without creating a disturbance to the flow of traffic and in a secure and safe environment.

The project represents another milestone for Windsor-Essex as the Automobility Capital of Canada and a world-class Automobility and Innovation Centre. Today’s announcement is made possible through FedDev Ontario’s initial $5 million investment in 2019. In total, FedDev Ontario has invested over $12 million in the Windsor-Essex region to catalyze the growth of a next-generation automobility cluster, support entrepreneurs, attract foreign direct investment and create jobs of the future.

Companies that are interested in using the digital twin of the Windsor Detroit Tunnel environment are encouraged to sign up and request a demo here: investwindsoressex.com/vrcave.


“Invest WindsorEssex is proud of the efforts to achieve this great milestone contributing to the continued economic growth of the region as the Automobility Capital of Canada. This cross-border test track will help local companies, government and post-secondary institutions test and further develop their technologies as well as secure foreign investment for the region. Thank you to FedDev Ontario for your continued support for Windsor-Essex as an innovation hub for mobility technologies.” – Stephen MacKenzie, President and CEO, Invest WindsorEssex  

“Our government is committed to advancing Canada’s world-class automobility innovation cluster in Windsor-Essex to drive innovation and economic growth and make Canada a leader in green technology. The Invest WindsorEssex VR Cave is an important step for connected and automated vehicle technology development in Canada, and our government will continue to make smart investments that support Canada’s economic growth now and into the future.” – The Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister responsible for the Federal Development Agency for Southern Ontario

“Invest WindsorEssex continues to be a global leader in automobility innovation, and the recent completion of the first international border crossing for CAV testing is no exception. The Government of Canada is proud to support the VR CAVE, and the continued innovation that will come from this world-class space.” – Irek Kusmiercyzk, Member of Parliament for Windsor–Tecumseh

“This project takes unique advantage of the Windsor-Detroit tunnel infrastructure to advance autonomous vehicle research, once again showcasing Windsor as the automobility capital of Canada. The City of Windsor, through our Windsor Works economic diversification vision, is investing in the future of the automotive sector, advancing R&D to create jobs and grow our local economy.” – Drew Dilkens, Mayor, City of Windsor

“Windsor Detroit Tunnel is honoured to be part of this new era of driving and transportation and we are glad that we were able to support the completion of the digital twin of the Windsor Detroit Tunnel. We look forward to further research and developments in this field and to whatever role the Tunnel can fulfill as a test site for these developments.” – Carolyn Brown, CEO, Windsor Detroit Borderlink Limited

About Invest WindsorEssex (IWE)

Invest WindsorEssex is the lead economic development agency for the Windsor-Essex region. The focus of the organization is to develop and execute strategies to retain, expand, attract and help new businesses start-up in the Windsor-Essex region. Invest WindsorEssex is led by a board of distinguished community leaders. A team of professional staff provides assistance with location and investment decisions by working one-on-one with businesses to facilitate the process of starting, growing or locating a business in Windsor-Essex. 

About FedDev Ontario

For more than 12 years, FedDev Ontario has worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation and growth in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving their productivity, growing their revenues, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region. Learn more about the impacts the Agency is having in southern Ontario by exploring Southern Ontario Spotlightpivotal projectsTwitterFacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.

Media Contacts

Gina Meret-Dybenko
Director, Marketing and Communications
Invest WindsorEssex
Mobile: 519-791-6223
Email: gmeret@investwindsoressex.com 

Monica Granados
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
Email: monica.granados@feddevontario.gc.ca