December 2019

AV Update

From The Editors
As we transition from 2019 to 2020, here are a couple of related items.  First, from all of us at CAVCOE to you and all our readers, our best wishes for a very Happy and Successful New Year .

Second, here are what we consider to be the top 10 CAV news items in Canada this year:

Ottawa L5, the first integrated CAV test environment of its kind in North America was officially launched.

CAV Canada 2019 conference featured 60 speakers from 6 countries.

Unmanned Systems Canada (USC) held its first student Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) Competition at L5. Teams developed and competed with scale models of automated snow plows.

The City of Torontoís Transportation Services team released a major 176-page report containing their Automated Vehicles Tactical Plan.

Pacific Western continued its successful shuttle demonstration projects. These were started in 2018 and continued into 2019 with with ELA demonstrations in Vancouver and Surrey.

Two autonomous Aurrigo Pods provided rides to 350 people at the Marshes golf course in Kanata ON.

Unmanned Systems Canada (USC) held its annual conference Unmanned Canada 2019.

The Minnesota Chapter of AUVSI held a student automated snow plow competition in downtown Toronto. Sidewalk Labs was a sponsor and hosted the event at their Toronto site.

Transport Canada held a very successful 1-day conference on Low Speed Automated Shuttles.

The City of Toronto issued an RFP for its Automated Transit Service Shuttle pilot project. See below for additional information.

Canadian AV News
As a reader of AV Update, you clearly have a stake in the Canadian and global CAV industry. Whether you are a researcher, innovator, technology developer, industry or government leader addressing CAV R&D, business and policy opportunities and challenges, there is only one place to be on December 2 and 3, 2020: Ottawa, Ontario.  Save this date Ė all roads will lead to Canadaís CAV Capital. Watch for your invitation in January 2020 as we drive into the next revolutionary decade in connected and autonomous vehicle innovation.

The City of Toronto issued its RFP for an Automated Transit Shuttle Service on December 24, 2019. The response deadline is February 7, 2020.  You can access the RFP here.
Staying with the City of Toronto, Transportation Services released a major report titled Automated Vehicles Tactical Plan.  The City of Toronto Council has now formally adopted this plan. This report was developed by more than 30 City of Toronto divisions and agencies and by consulting more than 350 community groups and companies that are currently involved in developing AVs. The City also partnered with a number of leading-edge organizations including academic institutions in Canada and the U.S., as well as other national and international organizations and experts to prepare the plan. A copy of the updated report can be downloaded from the City website at this link and select Attachment 1 at the bottom of the page.
CAVCOE has announced the Canadian Automated Snow-Plow Initiative (CASPI), The background is that Canadian municipalities are showing increased interest in automated sidewalk snow-clearing. In 2019, Unmanned Systems Canada ran a student competition in this area that was sponsored by Transport Canada.

CASPI's plan has a number of components:
  • The 2020 student snow plow competition being organized by CAVCOE.
  • A comprehensive program of research studies examining the technical and regulatory issues, as well as market research into the size of the market as a guide to potential suppliers.
  • A 1-day workshop / conference in Toronto this Fall.
  • A strategy and road-map for 2021 and beyond.

CASPI is an association with membership fees and a Board of Directors drawn from its members. We expect that municipalities and the supply chain in particular will benefit from membership. Only CASPI members will receive the various reports. However, non-members can attend the competition and conference. For more information, please write to

Linked to this, CAVCOE has also announced the 2020 student snow plow competition, which is open to teams from Canadian universities. The competition will be very similar to the 2019 competition and will again be held at the Ottawa L5 CAV test facility in May. For details, please write to

Ontario's Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) has published its latest newsletter. It is available here.

Drone Delivery Canada has announced that its Moose Cree First Nation project received its first conditional approval for one of its funding applications. Subject to entering into a definitive agreement and satisfying any conditions imposed by the funder, this would enable Moose Cree First Nationís Remote Communities Initiative to pay DDC for its drone delivery service scheduled for implementation in 1Q20. Additional information is here.

International AV News
On November 20, 2019, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation held a hearing titled Highly Automated Vehicles: Federal Perspectives on the Deployment of Safety Technology to examine the safe testing and deployment of highly automated vehicles. The hearing included witness statements from a number of experts (NTSB, NHTSA and USDoT) and was live webcast.  The statements and the recorded webcast can be viewed at this link.

In line with other companies like Waymo, Tesla, Aptiv and others, Daimler-Benz has its eye on the potential market for automated robotaxis. To this end, Daimler is deploying up to 30 of its Mercedes-Benz S-class sedans in San Jose and other California cities. Apparently, Daimler believes money is to be made in automated commercial vehicles used by freight companies on long haul routes rather than robotaxis. However, it is investing in robotaxis to keep up with the competition. More information is at this link.

Stop Saying Driverless Cars Will Help Old People is the title of an article published on December 5, 2019 by Wired magazine. One of the perceived benefits of AVs is how it can make the lives of the elderly better by providing mobility for them. This is specially so in areas where little or no public transportation is available. However, according to the article, AV companies hardly ever engage seniors in their studies or research.  The designers often claim their products will be great for an aging population without actually including that population in the conversation.  A lot of new technologies are being marketed toward older adults but they have not necessarily been designed for them, with their capabilities in mind. For example, products designed by younger people does not take into account what seniors actually need. This can lead to the buttons being too small, the voice quality not easy to hear and the number of steps required to to do what you want too many.  The article can be viewed at this link.

Cybersecurity for Connected & Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) is absolutely critical for future deployment of these vehicles. In November 2019, the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (EISA) published an updated 103-page report titled EISA Good Practices for Security of Smart Cars on this topic.  More information is at this link.  The report identifies the relevant assets and the emerging threats targeting smart car ecosystems of tomorrow as well as the potential security measures and good practices to mitigate them. More information is at this link.  A copy of the report can be downloaded from this link.

In its September-October 2019 edition, ITS International published an article titled From Dream to Reality on plans by the UK government to allow driverless cars on UKís public roads by 2021. The author believes this target is unrealistic as there are numerous technical and regulatory issues that needs addressing to ensure public safety.  To this end, in addition to real world testing of AVs, simulation must be employed to model the huge number of scenarios that can happen on a roadway in regards to interaction of AVs with pedestrians and other road users. The article can be viewed at ITS Internationalís site at this link or alternatively viewed/downloaded from this link.

Another article from the same issue of ITS International titled The Unthinkable is Already Here details what many law enforcement agencies have been warning about for some time: using an autonomous vehicle to carry out a criminal act. In this particular case, a man in Sheffield, UK was sentenced to 15 years in prison for planning just such an attack Ė using an AV to carry a bomb. The article can be viewed at ITS Internationalís site at this link or alternatively viewed/downloaded from this link.

In common with other automakers, S. Koreaís Hyundai believes the future of cars is electric, connected and autonomous. To this end, it has developed a strategy dubbed 2025 Strategy to formalize its game plan. Hyundaiís plan consists of two main parts: Smart Mobility Device and Smart Mobility Service. The device part will include cars, personal air vehicles (PAVs), robotics, and last-mile mobility. The services part will provide customers with services such as shopping, delivery, streaming, and multi-modal mobility services. Hyundai intends to spend up to US$51 billion in R&D in realization of its 2025 Strategy by 2025. More information is at this link.

Another academic book on autonomous vehicles has been published. It is titled Sustainability Prospects for Autonomous Vehicles. The author is George T. Martin - Emeritus Professor in the Sociology Department at Montclair State University in New Jersey. Whereas most work done on AVs to date concerns the technical and economic aspects of this nascent technology, this book focuses more on the social, behavioural, and environmental implications of AVs. The book is available on Amazon (Canada) for $102.20.  More information on the book is at this link.

In a setback for the advocates and users of Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC), The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is proposing to take away up to 60% of the bandwidth reserved for ITS and connected vehicle applications almost two decades ago. FCC maintains that it hasnít seen much utilization of these prime airwaves in the past 20 years. It has also recognized the rival technology of C-V2X is gaining momentum and some big-name backers such as Ford, VW, Honda, Verizon, Qualcomm, 5GAA and others. Companies and cities who have invested heavily in DSRC are disappointed with FCCís new stance. Toyota, New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDoT), Utah Department of Transportation (UDoT) and ITS America are also among the disappointed. On December 12, 2019, FCC voted unanimously to open up frequencies reserved for autos for other uses. More information is at this link and this one.

With the increasing number of autonomous vehicles on the public roads of Arizona, California and elsewhere, first responders (Police, Fire and EMS) need to be trained on how to deal with a self-driving car in an emergency. To this end, Waymo has produced a 14-minute video called Guide for First Responders to inform and educate first responders about this issue. For example, to stop a self-driving car from continuing to self-drive, first responders are told to leave at least one of the vehicle doors open. They are also instructed on how to disconnect power and to put the vehicle into manual drive mode. This is achieved through a button combination on the steering wheel. More information and the video are at this link.

Over the past ten years, AVs have made great strides by using better sensors, AI, machine learning and billions of hours of simulation. Despite all these and billions of invested dollars, AV technology is still challenged by "edge cases":  construction, unusual obstacles, poor weather conditions, police officers directing traffic, etc. This had led to many companies employing a technique called tele-operation. When an AV encounters an edge case, it stops and contacts a tele-operator for help. The tele-operator can give instructions to the AV on how to proceed or they can direct control of the vehicle using a steering wheel, pedals from a control centre. Many jurisdictions have passed legislation allowing tele-operation (Ontario in Canada, Japan, Finland, The Netherlands, England, some U.S. states and others).  More information is at this link.

Autonomous Rail Transit (ART) is the name given to autonomous trackless trams deployed in the City of Yibin in China. Yibin has a population of over 4 million people. The trains have rubber wheels and run on regular roads. It can carry up to 500 people at speeds of up to 70 Km/h. Light Rail Transit (LRT) running on fixed tracks can cost US$54 million to US$68 million per kilometre and take years to build. By comparison, ART cost per kilometre is between US$4 million and US$5.5 million and can be deployed much quicker. The Yibin ART is 17.7 Km long and built at a cost of US$156 million. Other cities are also looking at this technology as an alternative to LRT and BRT. More information about the Yibin ART is at this link. More in-depth information on ART is at this link. A short YouTube video can also be viewed at this link.

And finally, AV promoters often mention that the average private car sits idle 95% of the time and cite this for abandoning private car ownership. In an interesting article titled The 95% Solution Myth in the December 2019 issue of the Dispatcher, the author argues that there are many other possessions that sit idle for 95% or more of the time; yet we donít abandon them. As examples, he cites his bed (idle 83% of the time because he is a frequent traveler), his wading boots (idle for 99.997% of the time because he doesnít fish that often), his tuxedo (idle for 99.9999% of the time) and his burial plot that he bought 35 years ago (unused 100% of the time so far)! The author goes on to argue that there are both economic and philosophical reasons for owning things. For example, we buy a car and park it in a place that is convenient so that when we need it, it is there for our use. We don't need to book it, find it, and fulfill obligations when we have finished using it. It may cost us more in money terms, but we are willing to pay for the convenience. The article can be viewed or downloaded at this link.

CAVCOE Speakers' Bureau
CAVCOE provides speakers for many different types of events across Canada, the US and overseas.  This keeps us busy because everybody understands that CAVs will have an impact on almost everything. On the one hand, our presentations have core messaging on the status of CAVs, their deployment scenarios, and the impact on business plans, government policy, regulations and society as a whole.  On the other hand, each presentation is customized for the audience and the time available. To enquire about a speaker for your event, please write to

Upcoming AV-Related Events

Jan 7-10, 2020: CES 2020, Las Vegas NV

Apr 1-2, 2020: ADAS Sensors 2020, Detroit MI

Apr 2-7, 2020: Transportation Association of Canada, Spring Technical Meetings, Ottawa ON

Jun 14-17, 2020: ITS Canada 2020 Conference. Edmonton AB

Oct 4-8, 2020: ITS World Congress, Los Angeles CA

Nov 3-5, 2020: Unmanned Systems Canada's annual conference, Calgary AB

TBA, 2020: CAV Canada 2020 conference, Ottawa ON

AV Update is a free, monthly roundup of news and analysis in the world of automated vehicles and their impact on the private sector, government and society.

Chief Editor: Ahmad Radmanesh
Contributor to this issue: Barrie Kirk

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© CAVCOE 2019
CAVCOE (formerly the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence) provides advice to public and private sector organizations to help plan for the arrival of self-driving vehicles

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