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University of Waterloo opens new automotive research facility

The University of Waterloo has opened a new automotive research and testing facility, setting the stage for technological advances that will benefit both consumers and the environment. The $10-million Green and Intelligent Automotive (GAIA) Research Facility is supported by Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, the University of Waterloo, and equipment suppliers.

Research areas include longer-lasting batteries to extend the range of electric vehicles, methods to feed excess energy from vehicles back into the public power grid, emissions, wheel force measurements and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), such as adaptive cruise controllers that maintain safe distances between vehicles while also optimizing fuel consumption.

GAIA is spread across three labs and covers 4,000 square feet.

A key design of the GAIA Research Facility allows integration of three cells—batteries, powertrains and a rolling dynamometer that simulates real-world driving. This integration enables a safe and reliable way to test individual components and entire vehicles under one roof.

The facility will be open to a team of 150 faculty and graduate students who will test, modify and identify problems with electric and hybrid vehicles. The focus of their work will be to make it to a test track, saving time and money in the process.

Several years in the making, GAIA is the latest infrastructure addition to the Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research (WatCAR), the largest university-based automotive research centre in Canada.

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