News Roundup: India Says ‘No’ to Self-Driving Cars, Two Companies Plan Cross-Border Road Test for Driverless Cars, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

A roundup of recent headlines to come out of the driverless and connected-car industries this past week:

India says No to driverless cars over fear of job losses

India’s transport minister, Nitin Gadkari, told news outlets this past week that driverless cars will not be allowed in India anytime soon, due to the number of job losses it could lead to. Gadkari said India’s unemployment rate is still too high to risk losing jobs to automated vehicles. As it is currently, he said the country is in need of at least 100,000 more commercial drivers and he looks forward to being able to provide the Indian people with so many available jobs. In addition, India officials estimate that the amount of infrastructure changes that would be needed to prepare India for self-driving cars would be far too expensive given the nation’s current economy. Gadkari did say he would not rule out the technology altogether in the future if India’s situation improves. Read more from BBC News.


Manhattan proposal wants to transform cross-island highways into roads exclusively for driverless vehicles

Manhattan-based architecture firm Edg has proposed a bold project that they say would reduce urban pollution and congestion in Manhattan and make some major roadways on the island exclusive to driverless cars. The proposal, called “Loop NYC,” wants to take major roadways that cut across the island–namely, 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th, 86th and 110th streets–and turn them into roads that are exclusive to driverless cars. Edg says this could cut down traffic time from the current 40 minutes it takes to drive a loop from Grand Central Station to Lower Manhattan and back down to just 11 minutes, with traffic flowing more smoothly thanks to self-driving vehicles. In addition, Loop NYC wants to create enormous green spaces and pedestrian bridges that would cross over the driverless roadways and would be exclusive to pedestrians and bicyclists, improving beauty while reducing pollution, as well as increasing the city’s walkability. As expected, the proposal is still “largely speculative” in nature, particularly given the fact that the federal government still has not approved a nationwide set of laws and regulations for driverless cars. Read more about Loop NYC on ArchDaily.


Two companies plan road test for driverless cars across the border from the U.S. into Canada

Two major companies working on driverless vehicle technology, Continental and Magna, are teaming up for a whopper of a road test. The two companies plan to send self-driving cars across the border from Michigan into Sarnia, in Toronto, Canada. The cars will reportedly cross the border at two locations–through the tunnel from Detroit into Windsor, and crossing the Blue Water Bridge into Sarnia. Reps say the cars’ “driverless mode” will be enabled whenever possible but will likely include a few instances when the driver will take over control. They add, crossing an international border makes for incredibly unique driving conditions, which will allow Continental and Magna to collect a lot of valuable data from the cars’ cameras, LiDAR and radar. In addition, the test will reveal future hurdles when it comes to crossing the borders of two different countries with two different sets of laws and regulations. Read more from TechCrunch.

Image: Loop NYC rendering by Edg

Canada Plans for the Disruption of Automated Vehicles

Barrie Kirk

Barrie Kirk, co-founder and executive director of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence (CAVCOE), reports from last week’s Toronto conference — Automated Vehicles: Planning the Next Disruptive Technology.

The Automated Vehicles: Planning the Next Disruptive Technology conference was organized by the Conference Board of Canada and attracted a large number of attendees from all levels of government, the private sector and academia.

Highlights included:

  • I had the opportunity to give the keynote address opening the conference. I gave an overview of just what automated vehicles will mean — huge, disruptive changes to our lives, society and the economy. Our cities and our world will look very different in 2030 compared to today. We need this to be actively managed by all levels of government to maximize the benefits to everybody in the 21st century.
  • Antoine Belaieff of Metrolinx, a public transportation agency in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area, spoke about the benefits of AVs for greater mobility, safety, lowering costs, and the opportunities to re-invent trucking and goods movement.
  • Stephen Buckley of the City of Toronto described how AVs can be used to build better cities. He asked: “How do we harness AVs to give us the city we want?”
  • John Eddy of ARUP suggested a government policy of no new lane miles.
  • Antonio Gomex-Palacio of DIALOG described the real opportunities for re-designing cities if we can eliminate personal car ownership. For example, condos are now being built in Toronto without parking.
  • A very interesting session addressed data ownership and data privacy. A key battle is between the different stakeholders who all want to own the data generated by AVs. Also, there is no such thing as 100 percent security of data and this will be an ongoing issue. Another area of concern is “function creep” in which data is collected for one purpose and is then used for something else. This is an area where we need government intervention and standards because, clearly, the market is not addressing this.
  • Karlyn Stanley of Rand Corp. discussed the similarities between data from smartphones and that from AVs and connected vehicles. From a data perspective, an AV is a smartphone on wheels. The auto industry lacks a consensus on protecting data generated by cars. This is made worse by consumers’ willingness to trade personal data to obtain benefits, which is the case with Usage Based Insurance (UBI).
  • Sean Rathwell with Dillon Consulting reported on a recent series of discussions with municipalities. The conclusion is that municipalities are not prepared for the arrival of AVs. Similarly, the transit agencies will be reactive and wait for the technology. Sean also said that current traffic modelling tools are not adequate for analyzing traffic in the AV era.
  • Yves Provencher of PIT Group, in a session of goods movement, described platooning trials in the US and Europe and the work being done by Daimler, Peterbilt and others to develop autonomous trucks. One concept that Yves described is a motorized trailer that could join up with other, similar trailers to form a convoy.

Although Canada has, unfortunately, been lagging behind the U.S. in its preparations for automated vehicles, the overall conclusion from the large number of attendees and the level of interest is that the momentum is building at many different levels.

Linked to this, Canada’s new federal government is developing a new, larger innovation agenda that will be announced in the fall, and the recent budget includes funds for Transport Canada to develop a federal regulatory framework for AVs. It is clear that Canada will be far more pro-active in the AV space in the months and years ahead.

Image by ARUP.

Plan in the Works for Driverless Highway from Canada to Mexico

Jennifer van der Kleut

Many experts have said one of the biggest concerns with introducing self-driving cars into society is mixing them on the same streets with human-driven cars.

That’s one of the main reasons why North Dakota native Marlo Anderson says he is working with the Central North American Trade Corridor Association (CNATCA) to develop his idea for an “autonomous highway” that would stretch from Canada to Mexico.

Anderson’s “Autonomous Friendly Corridor” would actually make use of an already-existing highway that he says is widely underused–U.S. Highway 83.

Highway 83 runs through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. In the north, it crosses the border into Manitoba, and it ends at Mexico in the south.

Anderson told Transport Topics he hopes to test his idea in 2017 by riding in an autonomous vehicle from Bismarck, North Dakota to Pierre, South Dakota.

Anderson also said he and the CNATCA are working to create a coalition between the six states Highway 83 passes through and Canada to help make the Autonomous Friendly Corridor a reality.

“It’s pretty strong now between Canada and North Dakota,” Anderson told Transport Topics. “This will set a footprint for the rest of the country to follow.”

Anderson told KFYR-TV that he believes the corridor will not only help the move toward driverless technology to progress, but will also help alleviate general transportation issues in the U.S.

Anderson explained, the bulk of the American highway system is designed to help move people and goods between the east and west–but traveling north and south is much more of a challenge.

“Going North to South is very very difficult. We feel the autonomous corridor would alleviate some of that strain of moving North and South,” he said.

KFYR explained that with the Autonomous Friendly Corridor, unmanned cars would be able to deliver goods, and landport stations would be situated every 200 miles for re-fueling and unloading cargo.

In addition, “Drones could come in, pick up packages and move them to another location too. So this landport is kind of a new concept that we’ve been tossing around too, and there’s a lot of interest in that as well,” said CNATCA Treasurer Dave Blair.

The Autonomous Friendly Corridor is being dubbed a “visionary project” by planners.

Controlling the Disruption of Autonomous Technology

Burney Simpson

Autonomous cars could be the disruptive technology that disrupts just about everything.

A new conference in Canada, “Automated Vehicles: Planning the Next Disruptive Technology” is designed to update transportation experts on the technology and help them prepare for its impact.

The event from the Conference Board of Canada will run April 19-20 in the One King West Hotel in Toronto.

The conference will address autonomous technology and its impact on urban planning, security and privacy, transit, and the movement of commercial goods. See the agenda here.

The conference arises in part from a 2015 paper from the consultant Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence (CAVCOE), and the Conference Board. (See “Autonomous Vehicles to Save Canada $54 Billion, Many Lives”).

One year later, the Conference Board is organizing the event and the timing is right, says Barrie Kirk, executive director of CAVCOE, a conference sponsor.

For instance, a test of autonomous vehicles on public roads began near Toronto in January, and the government just released its 10-year strategic transportation plan that includes some mention of autonomous technology. The Toronto test could bring driverless cars traveling on everything from Highway 401 to suburban side streets, according to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.

“We’re seeing the winds of change blow through our federal government,” said Kirk. The newly-elected Liberal government “is more open. They seek partnerships. And policy groups are seeing disruptive technology coming.”

CAVCOE is taking advantage of the open mood to request that 1 percent of the 18 billion (Canadian) the nation spends on infrastructure be devoted to smart infrastructure, says Kirk. That 180 million Canadian converts to $133 million U.S.

Smart infrastructure covers a lot of ground, notes Kirk, including autonomous vehicles, emissions, data and privacy, cybersecurity, weather, and distracted drivers.

The conference is also sponsored by the Canadian Automobile Association and BlancRide, a Canadian carpooling service.

Photo by CAVCOE.

One Canadian City is Saying ‘No’ to Self-Driving Car Testing

Jennifer van der Kleut

Every day, more and more cities across the globe are saying Yes to testing and preparing for autonomous transportation. However, it appears Vancouver, Canada will not be one of them–at least, not any time soon.

News outlets are reporting that Transportation Minister Todd Stone says British Columbia has no plans to test self-driving vehicles on public roads in the province any time soon.

Furthermore, he is warning cities across the province that they do not have free reign to begin testing without the federal government’s approval.

“I don’t believe the City of Vancouver has regulatory authority over the operation of motor vehicles, that’s a provincial authority, and safety standards is a federal role,” Stone said, according to CBC News.

MetroNews Canada says Stone is not against driverless cars; he says, rather, he is “keenly interested” in the technology and its potential transportation benefits, but that there’s much more discussion that needs to take place within the government before that can or should happen.

Stone also acknowledged that other provinces across Canada–such as Ontario–are already moving forward with testing, and said that perhaps British Columbia should see how that turns out first.

“Our preference at the moment in British Columbia is to stand pat and just keep a close eye on these other jurisdictions,” he said, according to MetroNews Canada.  “There probably will come a day where driverless vehicles will be on roads across North America. For us, safety will be the most important consideration.”

MetroNews reports that, last week, Transport Minister Marc Garneau asked the Senate to “launch a study of the regulatory, policy and technical issues” associated with driverless vehicles so that Canada does not miss out on the potential benefits.

Vancouver City Councillor Geoff Meggs appeared to be disappointed in Stone’s statement, and said he wishes the city and province would be more proactive in exploring the valuable technology.

“It would be great to see the province step forward in a more comprehensive way because I think all the municipalities will be asking questions about it,” he said, according to CBC News.


Consumers Insist on Steering Wheels in Driverless Cars, and Canadians Say Yes to Driverless Tech, Sort Of

Burney Simpson

Two new surveys indicate the public has high demands but mixed feelings about driverless vehicles, though they are aware of some of the challenges that auto manufacturers face as they develop the technology.

Nine out of 10 consumers demand that autonomous vehicle occupants have the ability to override the vehicle controls at any time, according to a survey of 10,000 consumers worldwide commissioned by Volvo.

At the same time, 81 percent say the auto OEM should be responsible for an accident that occurs when the vehicle is in autonomous driving mode. Further, 90 percent say that an autonomous car should pass a driving test just like a human driver.

“People have told us that they need to feel in control and have the choice of when to delegate driving to the car,” said Volvo’s Anders Tylman-Mikiewicz, in a press release. “Today, that need is ultimately fulfilled with the presence of a steering wheel. … Therefore, a steering wheel is necessary until those needs change.”

A survey of Canadian consumers found mixed feelings there as well.

About 25 percent of Canadians are excited about the cars, about 25 percent are wary, and about half say it depends on the technology, according to a survey from, an online insurance comparison shopping site based in Toronto.VolvoSafer_drive_VCC08684_ListItem2

Canadian men are twice as likely as women to say they would use a driverless car, and people aged 18-34 are the most enthusiastic about the technology. These advocates say the cars will mean safer roads, more relaxing drives, and easier parking.

And nearly one in five Canadians think driverless cars would be just “plain cool,” Kanetix reports.

Folks in Canada’s two Eastern provinces – Quebec and Ontario – are more excited about driverless than those in the West.

That is fortunate as Ontario on January 1 officially began allowed the testing of driverless vehicles, joining states like California and Michigan. As of last October, the province and partner businesses had promised they would invest about $3 million in the testing.

The Ontario Centres of Excellence Connected Vehicle/Automated Vehicle program is coordinating business and government investments in the activity.

GM Experiment Will Allow Employees to Summon Autonomous Chevrolet Volt Through App

Jennifer van der Kleut

General Motors reports that its Canadian arm will help develop a fleet of autonomous Chevrolet Volts to take part in an experimental ride-on-demand project.

GM Authority reports that GM Canada president and managing director, Steve Carlisle made the announcement at an event this week.

It appears the Volts will be manufactured at GM Canada’s facilities in Oshawa, Ontario and then be shipped to Michigan.

There, GM employees will be able to summon a car through an app when they need a ride. Autonomous technology will “deliver” the car to the person, and then deliver the person to their destination, and then self-park.

“The program will serve as a rapid-development laboratory to provide data and lessons to accelerate GM’s technical capabilities in autonomous vehicles,” GM Authority explains.

Read more about the announcement and program on GM Authority.


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