While self-driving cars that can handle all road conditions could still be decades away, the technology is moving forward in Canada’s capital.

Ottawa’s L5 test facility for autonomous vehicles has officially opened, providing a world class testing ground for makers of self-driving cars.

The facility features a 16-kilometre private track, as well as a nine-kilometre-long public test track that allows developers to test their vehicles in a live city environment.

The carefully constructed course mimics real city streets, complete with traffic signals, pedestrian crossings, and bike lanes, alongside high tech sensors and dedicated 4G and 5G communication networks.

But Ottawa has another advantage for autonomous car makers: an extreme climate.

Self-driving vehicles needing to function in all weather conditions. The harsh Ottawa winters and accompanying ice and snow give carmakers a chance to make sure their vehicles are up to the challenge.

“This is essentially a proving ground,” Project Manager Divyanshu Kamboj told CTV News. “And a sandbox environment for companies that are developing these technologies.”