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.
- 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.