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Senate: Canada Not Prepared for Advent of Autonomous Vehicles

Canada’s Senate Committee on Transport and Communications delivered 16 recommendations to help prepare Canadians for the autonomous vehicles, adding the country should better plan for the impacts of emerging technologies.

The report, titled Driving for Change, highlights the Senate’s concerns over lack of a national strategy to deal with such things as vehicle standards, infrastructure, cybersecurity, privacy and disruption to the labour market.

“We are on the cusp of a transportation revolution, and Canada must be ready. Cities were ill-prepared when ride sharing came to Canada. We cannot afford to repeat this mistake,” said Senator Dennis Dawson, deputy chairman of the committee.

“It is not a matter of if, but when more sophisticate automated and connected vehicles will arrive on Canadian roads,” concludes the report.

The final report referenced testimony by Marco Beghetto, CTA’s VP of Communications, who cautioned the senate in September to resist the assumption that autonomous technology will displace the majority of Canadian truck drivers.

“The truck operator is required to do much more than just hold a steering wheel. Among other things, they control access to the vehicle, maintain security, balance loads, secure cargo, manage transportation of dangerous goods, communicate with first responders, conduct pre-trip inspections, perform en route mechanical tasks, communicate with customers and deal with the myriad of border crossing processes,” the report quoted Beghetto as saying.

“In other words,” the report continued, “witnesses from the trucking sector suggested that there will always be a role for a human driver in trucks, although the role of that truck driver will likely evolve as ADAS (Advanced Driver Assist Systems ) technologies are increasingly added to these vehicles.”

A few of the 16 recommendations include:

  • Transport Canada and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada expeditiously create a joint policy unit to coordinate federal efforts and implement a national strategy on automated and connected vehicles.
  • Transport Canada urgently develop vehicle safety guidelines for the design of automated and connected vehicles. The guidelines should identify design aspects for industry to consider when developing, testing and deploying such vehicles on Canadian roads.
  • The Government of Canada increase its investments in the research and development of automated and connected vehicles, through a new Innovative and Intelligent Mobility Research and Test Centre … particular consideration should also be given to projects focused on cybersecurity and privacy.
  • Employment and Social Development Canada continue to work closely with the provinces and territories in order to strengthen retraining, skills upgrading and employment support for Canadians facing labour market disruption.
  • Public Safety Canada and the Communications Security Establishment work closely with the provinces and territories to develop cybersecurity training materials and programs to improve public understanding of cybersecurity issues.

The report noted advanced AVs could have a number of benefits, notably in terms of reduced accidents, lower pollution, more mobility options for Canadians and a variety of economic benefits.

“However, technology also raises a number of concerns in terms of job losses, privacy, cybersecurity, and urban sprawl. As a result, the Committee believes that the full benefits of this technology will not be realized unless a coordinated national strategy is developed.”

Download the full Senate report here.

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