URBAN MOBILITY FORUM / FORUM SUR LA MOBILITÉ URBAINE - FALL / AUTOMNE 2017 - 10
COVER STORY | ARTICLE DE FOND
Automated Vehicles in Canada - The Future
By Barrie Kirk, Executive Director, Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence (CAVCOE)
100 YEARS AGO, the Model T Fords were
coming off the production line. We know
the tremendous impact and disruption
that cars had on people's lives, cities, and
the world in the 20th century. Today, we
are witnessing the birth of Cars 2.0 and
the impact in the 21st century will be as
diverse and substantial as was the impact
of the original cars in the 20th.
This article highlights where we are,
where we are going over the next 10 to
20 years, what we are doing right - and
what else we should be doing.
The first generation of autonomous
vehicles (AVs) is already with us.
Semi-autonomous vehicles are commercially available in showrooms. Fullyautomated, low-speed, electric shuttle
buses are now in use in various countries. In June 2017, Transdev and Keolis
demonstrated shuttles on cordoned-off
sections of downtown streets in Montreal
at UITP's global public transit conference
CAVCOE's Barrie Kirk rode in both shuttles. The key takeaways from the demonstrations are that the technology works
very well and the rides were very ordinary
- which is meant as a compliment.
The next generation of AVs will be available starting in about 2020. Interestingly,
many suppliers are focused on initially
bringing to market AVs designed as
driverless taxis. Mobility-as-a-Service
(MaaS) will be a major trend throughout
the 2020s. This will cause significant disruptions in the transit, taxi, car sharing,
and auto industries' business models. It
is generally expected that car ownership
will decrease as people increasingly enjoy
the lower cost and convenience of driverless taxis.
Driverless taxis will have a significant
impact on transit. Each transit system
is unique, but there are some common
Navya Autonomous Shuttle operated by Keolis @UITP Patrick Bourque.
threads in terms of the opportunities and
challenges. The opportunities include the
use of autonomous shuttles for first-mile/
last-mile applications. Driverless taxes can
also provide a micro-transit service in offpeak periods and on low-density routes.
The challenge for transit companies is that
driverless taxis/micro-transit can also provide commuters with an on-demand service, flexible routing, and the convenience
of single mode door-to-door. By comparison, traditional transit is fixed route, fixed
schedule, and often multi-mode.
There is mounting evidence that the
private sector will provide micro-transit
and MaaS services in competition with
transit. Each transit company will need
to determine whether they want to move
into this space or focus on traditional
It is important to note that some major
transit operators, such as Transdev and
Keolis, have already decided to move
aggressively into the autonomous transit
business, as evidenced by their demonstrations at UITP.
The biggest single benefit of all
kinds of AVs is expected to be safety.
A joint report by the Conference Board
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of Canada and CAVCOE predicts that
full deployment of AVs can eliminate
80 per cent of traffic collisions, deaths
The same report predicts that an average Canadian family could save $3,000
per year by using driverless taxis and
getting rid of their car. A similar report in
the U.S. predicted a saving of U.S.$5,500
per family per year.
The key to achieving these kinds of
results is that MaaS must be affordable
and convenient if people are to embrace
a move away from car ownership.
AV technology has some known weaknesses that are being addressed. These
include cyber-security, snow and ice,
hand signals from police officers, and
hand signals from human drivers. These
and other issues are well-known and the
industry is working on solutions.
I predict that the deployment of AVs
will be incremental, based on the capabilities and limitations of the technology. For
example, the early driverless taxis will be
deployed in the southern states and the
deployment will move further north as
the ability of AVs to cope with snow and