First Drone and Advanced Robotic Testing and Training Centre of Its Kind in Canada Takes Flight at Area X.O

Jun 21, 2023

Area X.O Invest Ottawa Indro Robotics and Government of Canada logo

Cutting-Edge Facility Enables Innovators and Companies to Test and Commercialize Aerial and Ground Robots, Acquire Pilot Training, and Get to Market Faster

OTTAWA, ONJune 21, 2023 – Today, Area X.O, the R&D complex for next-gen smart mobility, autonomy, and connectivity technologies founded and operated by Invest Ottawa, together with industry partner InDro Robotics, the leading Canadian robotics R&D company, unveiled the Drone and Advanced Robotics Testing and Training Zone (DARTT) – the first facility of its kind in the country.

Leveraging critical funding from the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and in-kind industry contributions from InDro Robotics, the DARTT Zone will enable innovators, and companies to rigorously test, validate, and demonstrate the capabilities of their aerial and ground robotic innovations. This is critical to help mitigate risks, enhance product functionality, and boost customer confidence, accelerating time to market and the safe adoption of these solutions. It will help Canadian firms capitalize on the robotics global market, which is estimated to exceed USD $115.88B by 2032, and generate new revenues that spur the growth of our economy.

Aptly set in the heart of Area X.O in Canada’s capital, a global tech hub, the DARTT Zone is a high-tech R&D obstacle course. It features specialized infrastructure that puts aerial and ground robots through rigorous tests and challenges in mixed terrain and diverse weather to assess and advance their performance, safety, and market readiness. It is the first facility of its kind in Canada to integrate US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) criteria into its site design and training operations.

The DARTT Zone employs NIST standards, guidelines, and frameworks for testing and evaluating unmanned systems and robots, as well as the specialized training and certifications provided to drone operators and pilots. It will help innovators and companies commercialize drone and robotics solutions for a wide array of sectors, including intelligent transportation, public safety, defence, aerospace, security, agriculture, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), natural resources, cleantech and more.

Constructed in spring 2023, this facility is comprised of:

  • An area for robots that features a variety of surfaces, such as gravel, sand, and water, ramps, sidewalks, stairs, and other objects that abide by the NIST, providing a challenging environment for testing ground robots and their operators.
  • An area for drones with a large, netted enclosure for the safe testing of drone failure scenarios, as well as a precision NIST-criteria course to improve high-level drone skills. It will also offer specialized capabilities such as autonomous Detect-and-Avoid (DAA) Technology and Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM).
  • A training area where users can acquire basic, intermediate, and advanced instruction including Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) certification and on-site flight reviews. All instruction will be provided by InDro Robotics, building on its long and respected tradition of providing training to drone professionals in adherence with Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) and Transport Canada. Highly specialized courses and micro-credentials will be offered in the future.

Area X.O and InDro Robotics worked together to define the vision, capabilities, and operational model for the DARTT Zone. It leverages Area X.O’s infrastructure, onsite expertise, and shared services, and InDro Robotics’ deep expertise in drones, ground robots, and high-level professional training.  In future, Area X.O may evolve this facility to support capabilities and training in such areas as Heavy Urban Search and Rescue (HUSAR).

The DARTT builds on anchor investment from Area X.O’s visionary Co-Founding partners including: the Government of Canada (including FedDev Ontario and the National Capital Commission); the Government of Ontario, including OVIN (the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network operated by the Ontario Centre of Innovation); the City of Ottawa, Accenture, BlackBerry QNX, Ericsson, Microsoft, Nokia, and Ottawa’s post-secondary institutions.


Pull Quotes

“Congratulations to Invest Ottawa on the launch of the Area X.O DARTT Zone! You continue to open doors for innovators and entrepreneurs by providing a place to test and evaluate products in a safe and fully functional space. This latest addition to Area X.O is helping strengthen our thriving tech industry, create jobs and boost Canada’s economy.”

  • The Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario


“With the rapid evolution of smart mobility, connectivity, and autonomy, advanced robotics are transforming our economy and society. These technologies are helping to solve global challenges, catalyze new opportunities, and improve our productivity and safety. The new DARTT Zone at Area X.O will help innovators and companies commercialize new robotic solutions and acquire specialized pilot training and certifications. This will build Canada’s pool of top tech talent, and help firms get to market, customers, and revenue faster.”

  • Michael Tremblay, President and CEO, Invest Ottawa, Area X.O, and Bayview Yards


“InDro Robotics is honoured to be an industry partner in the DARTT Zone at Area X.O, and help to realize the full potential and impact of this facility. This project builds on our long-standing collaboration with Area X.O and Invest Ottawa. We have located our primary R&D hub at this complex because of the capabilities it provides. Now through the DARTT Zone, we will work together to provide firms with evidence-based testing and training that meets demanding NIST criteria. This is a significant competitive advantage, and a cutting-edge addition to Area X.O.”

  • Philip Reece, Founder and CEO, InDro Robotics


“Congratulations Invest Ottawa on this fantastic addition to Area X.O. Your hard work and dedication continue to boost the the local economy and provide valuable opportunities for local entrepreneurs and innovators. The Area X.O DARTT Zone is fostering growth in this important sector here in Nepean and across southern Ontario.”

  • Chandra Arya, Member of Parliament for Nepean


“Today marks a great milestone in Ottawa. This remarkable testing site sets a precedent for innovation in our city. The DARTT state-of-the-art facility leads the way to facilitate breakthroughs, drive research and development, and catalyze growth for organizations worldwide. It’s a great addition to Ottawa and a significant leap forward in our technological advancements.”

  • Mark Sutcliffe, Mayor of Ottawa and Co-Chair of the Board, Invest Ottawa


“By harnessing the capabilities and infrastructure of Area X.O, we are creating an entirely new resource for Canadian innovators and companies in a year-round setting. We aspire to be an ideal go-to site for testing drone and robot capabilities and elevating piloting skills in a controlled environment. I am excited about the many applications that will help officers, commercial drone pilots, and first responders develop the piloting skills and/or certifications required to professionally fly drones and teleoperate robots.”

  • Rebecca Thompson, Senior Manager of Operations, Area X.O


“The future has arrived with the development of this new facility with industry partner InDro Robotics, for the launch of the first Drone and Advanced Robotics Testing and Training (DARTT) Zone of its kind in the country. Thanks in part to funding from the Government of Ontario, cutting edge innovation and development starts right here in Ottawa, which I will always support for our city and our province.”

  • Lisa MacLeod, MPP, Nepean


“I am encouraged by the opportunity that Area X.O and the DARTT Zone provide for paramedics, police and other first responders to learn and test their capabilities in a state-of-the-art environment. Area X.O & the DARTT Zone are purpose-built to advance the science, integration of technology and practice of public safety to protect Canadians.”

  • Mike Nolan, Chief Paramedic and Director of Emergency Services, County of Renfrew


About Area X.O

Area X.O is the R&D complex in Canada’s Capital that enables and accelerates the safe and secure development, testing, and adoption of next-generation smart mobility, autonomy, and connectivity technologies. Area X.O helps startups, SMEs, multinationals, and governments address grand challenges and opportunities, and get to market faster. Combining diverse expertise with Ottawa’s telecom and cybersecurity strengths as a global tech hub and operating one of the most advanced communications infrastructures in the world, it is the only all-weather R&D complex of its kind in North America with a private and public Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) test facility on city streets that fuels the creation, commercialization, and adoption of breakthrough smart mobility innovations. These applications benefit our community, economy, and environment, and span: telecom, smart agriculture, defence, security, and public safety; unmanned aerial vehicles, and smart cities. Established and managed by Invest Ottawa, Area X.O leverages critical support from world-class founding partners, including: the Government of Canada (through FedDev Ontario), the Government of Ontario (through the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network managed by the Ontario Centre of Innovation), the City of Ottawa, Accenture, BlackBerry QNX, Ericsson, Microsoft, Nokia, and Ottawa’s post-secondary institutions. For additional information, please visit:


About FedDev Ontario

For 13 years, the Government of Canada, through FedDev Ontario, has worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation, growth and job creation 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 productivity, growing revenues, creating jobs, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region. Learn more about the impacts the Agency is having in southern Ontario by exploring our pivotal projects, our Southern Ontario Spotlight, and FedDev Ontario’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.


About InDro Robotics

With bureaux in multiple Canadian cities, InDro Robotics is the Canadian leader in Robotics Research and Development, along with complex UAV solutions, service provision and training. With a motto of Invent, Enhance, Deploy – InDro creates custom solutions and products for some of the biggest technology companies in the world, as well as smaller clients. InDro’s drones and robots can be remotely tele-operated with near-zero latency from nearly anywhere on the planet.


About Invest Ottawa

Invest Ottawa is the lead economic development agency for knowledge-based industries in Canada’s Capital, facilitating economic growth and job creation in Ottawa. Guided by a vision to help realize Ottawa’s full potential as a globally recognized, innovative, inclusive, and future-ready city, Invest Ottawa delivers venture development, global expansion, and talent programs and services that catalyze the growth and success of entrepreneurs and firms. These include small business training, mentorship, acceleration for technology firms, foreign business and investment attraction, local business retention and expansion in targeted sectors, commercialization, and marketing Ottawa’s diversified economy and high quality of life.  Invest Ottawa is also the manager of Bayview Yards, Ottawa’s innovation hub and one-stop business acceleration shop; and founder and operator of Area X.O, the R&D complex for next-gen smart mobility, autonomy and connectivity technologies. Since 2013, Invest Ottawa has supported almost 14,000; contributed to the creation of more than 14,700 jobs; helped domestic companies raise $1.86 billion in capital; and attracted $1.47 billion in domestic and foreign direct investment to Ottawa. For more information, please visit:


Media Contacts

Sonya Shorey

VP, Strategy, Marketing and Communications

Invest Ottawa, Area X.O and Bayview Yards


[email protected]


Philip Reece

Founder and CEO, InDro Robotics



[email protected]


Edward Hutchinson

Press Secretary

Office of the Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario


[email protected]


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