A new breed of smarter and greener than current models could emerge from technology developed at a new research facility at the University of Waterloo.
The $10-million Green and Intelligent Automotive (GAIA) research facility is established today in the Faculty of Engineering with $1-million initial funding from Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (TMMC). The Governments of Canada and Ontario are also providing $2.1-million each through the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Research Fund Research Infrastructure program.
GAIA will consist of three labs: one focusing on powertrain efficiency, another on longer-lasting batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and a third lab for testing research-modified hybrid electric vehicles on rolling dynamometers.
Alternative powertrains found in electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are integral to the future of transportation. Developing intelligent software for use in low-cost, on-board vehicle computers can provide significant reductions of both emissions and fuel consumption.
Complex component systems will contribute to the development of new in-vehicle power electronics and embedded controllers. The result of this research work also has the potential to enable hybrid vehicles to feed energy into Canada’s electrical grid and become an integral daytime supplier of low cost energy.
“The GAIA facility will enable world-class multidisciplinary research with a strong collaborative approach,” said John McPhee, a Waterloo systems design engineering professor who heads the GAIA project. The facility will be accessible to a range of automotive companies and universities currently partnering with the University of Waterloo. Professor McPhee will lead a research team of eight professors from four different engineering departments.
As part of the Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research (WatCAR), which leads automotive-academic collaboration in North America, GAIA will support Canadian industry in providing new components and systems into a rapidly growing market. The facility has the capacity to conduct confidential projects simultaneously, offering open access for any company. To meet demand, it is expected new companies will be established, while existing manufacturers will evolve their product offerings.
John McPhee heads the GAIA project. (Credit: NSERC)