IOT: Powering the digital economy

Canadian university to partner with Chinese institutes on connected and autonomous vehicles

Emanuel M Schwermer | DigitalVision | Getty Images

The University of Waterloo in Ontario is to partner with two Chinese institutes to develop research into connected and autonomous vehicle technology.

The Canadian university recently signed an agreement with both the Qingdao Academy of Intelligent Industries (QAII) and the State Key Laboratory for Management and Control of Complex Systems (SKL-MCCS).

Research will focus on everything from automated vehicle testing to deep learning in automated driving and applied artificial intelligence. A "shared research center" for automated driving will be set up while faculty and graduate student exchanges are also in the pipeline. Additionally, Chinese start-ups could potentially set up research and development facilities in the Waterloo region.

"Waterloo is committed to taking a global view on research and development and this partnership represents a significant step in our goal of advancing the world's understanding and use of new technologies," Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of Waterloo, said in a statement Thursday.

The Chinese institutions will together provide as much as 1 million Canadian dollars ($764,200) annually for five years, while Waterloo has committed to supplying CA$4 million to build an autonomous lab facility. All institutions will also look for funding from outside sources.

Fei-Yue Wang, the president of QAII and director of SKL-MCCS, said that he was hopeful the collaboration would "lead to the world's first PhD program specializing in intelligent vehicles and make Waterloo the hub of innovation and incubation in intelligent vehicles and technology."

As technology moves at a rapid pace, the world's biggest companies are looking to develop and deploy increasingly sophisticated self-driving technology. To give one example, vehicles at Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet, have software and sensors designed to detect everything from pedestrians and cyclists to road works and other vehicles.

Ride-hailing powerhouse Uber is also looking to make a mark in the self-driving market. "In 2019, we've committed to buy 24,000 Volvo SUVs that we're going to equip with our autonomous driving technology and start to roll out on the Uber app," Fred Jones, the business' head of cities in the U.K. and Ireland, told CNBC earlier this year.

Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.