Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 14

14

* FEBRUARY 2018

Aerial view of Toronto waterfront area intended
to house the Sidewalk Labs project.
( P H O TO : S I D E WA L K L A B S )

HOGTOWN?

TECH
TOWN

HOW
ABOUT

Google sibling proposes a
'smart city' on Toronto's waterfront
that uses only autonomous vehicles
By JOHN IRWIN

TORONTO BUREAU

TORONTO - AUTOMAKERS,
technology companies and futurists
have been telling people for years that
autonomous cars could transform the
way they live. A Google-affiliated company wants to put that theory to the
test on Toronto's waterfront.
Sidewalk Labs, owned by Google
parent Alphabet Inc., plans to build
a high-tech "smart neighbourhood"
near downtown Toronto that would
rely on autonomous vehicles to transport people.
While still years away from development, the neighbourhood could
be the first real-world showcase for
how self-driving vehicles can radically
change street design and urban planning.
Sidewalk Labs and the government agency Waterfront Toronto
The long-term plan is to develop
about 800 acres - 3.2 square kilometres - of Toronto's waterfront.
( I L L U S T R AT I O N : S I D E W A L K L A B S )

announced plans in late 2017 year to
develop 12 acres (five hectares) of land
near Lake Ontario, just east of downtown.
Construction on the property,
dubbed Quayside, could begin as
soon as 2019 if Sidewalk Labs' plans
are approved by the city. The company has committed $50 million to the
development thus far.
If Quayside, which Sidewalk Labs
hopes to use to demonstrate how
data-driven technology can enhance
urban living, is dubbed successful by
government, Sidewalk Labs has plans
for an adjacent 800 acres - 3.2 square
kilometres - of largely underdeveloped land.
There, Sidewalk Labs wants to
build a neighbourhood and to use data
from cameras and sensors to improve
traffic flow as well as infrastructure,
the electrical grid and other aspects of
city life.
"We wouldn't want it to be radically different than a great neighbourhood in Toronto," said Rit Aggarwala,
Sidewalk Labs' head of urban

AUTOMOTIVE NEWS CANADA

FEBRUARY
MOBILITY
FEATURE

systems. "We love cities. That's why
we're urbanists. We think digital technology can make them better. The
changes will be in some ways subtle,
but we think they can add up to be a
dramatic improvement in urban life."
If successful, the project could
show how data and advanced technology such as fully
autonomous vehicles
can change cities for
the better. But the
project also raises concerns about privacy
in the digital age and
about the role private
corporations should
play in the development of entire neighbourhoods.

AUTONOMOUS ONLY

street is, it is primarily designed to
contain the error and unreliability of the human driver. You have to
have stoplights because you can't
rely on drivers to coordinate. You
have to have curbs because drivers
occasionally veer off and you want
to keep them away from pedestrians.
You need lanes much
wider than the average vehicle's width
because drivers aren't
that precise. All of
these things could
change."
Restricting roadways to only autonomous vehicles would
allow for narrower
streets and wider sidewalks, for instance.
"You can imagine
a world that feels very
much like the pre-automobile city," he said.
David Wolfe, the
co-director of the
Innovation Policy Lab
at the Munk School of
Global Affairs at the
University of Toronto,
said autonomous vehicles, once they are
commonplace in dense
urban environments,
could transform how
streets are used,
including parking.
"Urban planners,
transit planners,
regional planners, they all have to
think of a different model," he said.
We don't need to set aside all this
on-street parking for cars. That means
we can think in terms of different
urban layout and design."
Autonomous vehicles would in
many ways be a complement to the
transit system. Larger transit systems
such as trains and buses would still
transport large numbers of people,

We don't need to set
aside all this on-street
parking for cars. That
means we can think in
terms of different urban
layout and design.

The autonomous vehicle is a
major component of
DAVID WOLFE
Sidewalk Labs' vision,
University
Aggarwala said.
of Toronto
Sidewalk Labs, a sister
company of Alphabet's
Waymo self-driving-vehicle unit, could
restrict transportation
in the neighbourhood
to "taxibots" (a fleet of
self-driving vehicles
that can be summoned
via a smartphone app)
in addition to cycling
and existing mass
transit.
Street designs in most major
North American cities have been based
around the automobile. Allowing only
autonomous vehicles
to use roadways could
make them more efficient, Aggarwala said.
"When you think
about what an urban



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2

Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - Intro
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - CT1
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - CT2
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 1
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 2
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 3
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 4
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 5
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 6
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 7
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 8
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 9
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 10
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 11
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 12
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 13
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 14
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 15
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 16
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 17
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 18
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 19
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 20
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Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 30
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