January 2020

AV Update

From the Editors

We think that automated sidewalk snow plows are an idea whose time has come. We therefore start this issue with some announcements on this subject from CAVCOE, including a big welcome to two new people on our team:

We are launching the Canadian Automated Snow Plow Initiative (CASPI). This is a new association with deliverables that include the student snow plow competition, a suite of research studies, work on technical standards, and a 1-day workshop/conference in Toronto, probably in January 2021.

Linked to this, I am pleased to announce that Glenn Martin is CASPI's COO. Glenn most recently served as Executive Director, Unmanned Systems Canada. Over the past 20 years, Glenn has been progressively responsible for strategic and operational leadership of provincial and national not-for-profit associations, excelling in advocacy and driving member programs.

The student snow plow competition is returning in May 2020 at the Ottawa L5 CAV test facility. It is now called the 2020 Canadian Automated Snow Plow Competition and is being organized by CASPI.

I am also pleased to announce that David Mosley is the Project Manager for the competition. David is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP) and holds an MBA from the University of Ottawa's Telfer School of Management. He has held senior management positions with Canada Post, NorthVu Systems and Nortel Networks. He has also provided governance oversight as a member of the Board of Directors for both private sector and charity organizations. 

Barrie Kirk, CASPI's CEO, extends a big welcome to David and Glenn.

Canadian AV News

Many announcements were made at the 2020 CES event in Las Vegas. One of these was BlackBerry’s announcement that it has integrated Cylance ML Security Solution into its QNX software suite for autonomous vehicles. BlackBerry acquired Cylance in February 2019 for US$1.4 billion. Cylance has been described as “the first company to apply artificial intelligence, algorithms, and machine learning to cyber security. BlackBerry says QNX is being used in over 150 million vehicles today world-wide. In parallel with the Cylance announcement, BlackBerry also announced a new partnership with Damon Motorcycles, which will integrate QNX safety technology into motorcycles. More information is at this link.

Along with other car and tech companies, Canada’s Magna International Inc. is damping down expectations for the near future deployment of autonomous vehicles. To this end, Magna is planning to scale back its two-year partnership with Lyft Inc. to co-develop self-driving technology. According to Magna’s CEO, Magna now sees fully self-driving systems as a longer-term, expensive prospect and will shift focus to driver-assist systems with more reasonable timelines. Magna will focus more on near-term programs like its front and rear cameras and some surround view systems, as well as advanced radar systems. More information is at this link.

Editor's comment: the problem with many forecasts CAV deployments is that the CAV ecosystem is not homogeneous and deployments for different use cases will happen at different times. Many commentators do not make this distinction. Low-speed CAVs such as shuttles are already in commercial service now. Some OEMs forecast Level 4 cars in the early 2020s. We and many others forecast that Level 5 cars, defined as go anywhere, anytime, in almost any weather, will not be here until the 2030s.

With the growing prominence of Connected & Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) and the increasing popularity of electric vehicles, new skill sets are needed by the workforce employed by the automotive industry. To this end, Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) has published a 39-page report titled Workforce Skills & Talent for the Future Mobility Era, Realizing Needs and Filling Gaps which addresses this important issue.  A copy of the report can be downloaded from AVIN’s web site at this link.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) published an article on January 2, 2020 regarding the voracious appetite of the data centre industry for electrical power and its negative impacts on the environment.  The biggest culprits cited are streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime according to this article.  CAVs and 5G will be contributing to this issue because they need a steady stream of data which normally comes from a Data Centre somewhere. The article can be viewed at this link.

Driving.ca has a light-hearted article on distracted pedestrians along with a serious suggestion for using CAV technology to mitigate it.  Inattention by pedestrians wearing headphones (music) or talking on mobile phones has resulted in a nearly 30-year high in pedestrian fatalities in the United States in 2018. The article suggests utilizing infrastructure being built for CAVs to alert distracted pedestrians by communicating with their headphone or smartphones using inter-vehicular communication systems under development.  The article can be viewed at this link.

International AV News

One major item in January was GM's launch of the Cruise Origin. This is a new vehicle designed to operate without a driver on board. The all-electric shuttle is designed as a shuttle for shared applications and does not have manual controls such as pedals or a steering wheel. There is no date for the commercial launch of the Origin. More information is at this link.

Saudi Arabia is the latest country to enter the AV ecosystem. A joint project by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), EasyMile and Local Motors has deployed a couple of electric self-driving shuttles on the campus of KAUST since mid-December 2019. Saudi Public Transport Co. (SAPTCO) will manage and operate the autonomous shuttles deployed on the KAUST campus. The university hopes that the automated shuttles will spark interest and research into this nascent technology. More information is at this link.

In line with other jurisdictions jumping into CAV research and development, Scotland sees great potential in CAVs for the future. Scotland promotes its road network as a good candidate for CAV pilot projects.  To this end, in December 2019, Transport Scotland published a 56-page report titled CAV Roadmap for Scotland.  With partial funding of £4.5 million from the UK Government, Scotland will be deploying a fleet of autonomous buses running from Fife and Edinburgh, via the Forth Road Bridge. More information is at this link. A copy of the CAV Roadmap can be downloaded from Transport Scotland’s website at this link.

The proponents of AVs often paint a rosy picture of what transportation will be like in the future, eg. less congested roads, less emissions, less fatalities and property damage, etc.  Not everyone agrees with these predictions. In a January 5, 2020 article on The Conversation website titled Self-driving cars will not fix our transportation woes, the author paints a different less upbeat version for the future based on a number of studies and modelling efforts. For example, one study suggests carbon emissions can increase by 200 percent (see this link for the study report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory). The author believes automated shuttles providing first mile/last mile service to mass transit hubs is the way to go. The article can be viewed at this link.

Following in Waymo’s footsteps, a startup called AutoX has applied for a permit to the State of California for testing driverless cars (no human safety driver) on California public roads. If granted, AutoX will be only the second company granted such permit in California.  Similar to Waymo’s driverless cars, there will be remote monitoring of the driverless car by a team of human operators located in a remote control centre. AutoX is backed financially by the Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba. At present, about 60 companies have permits in California to test their AVs on public roads with a safety driver behind the wheel. More information is at this link.

The U.S. Congress has been working on passing legislation for AVs for several years. So far, this has not happened. A couple of AV bills introduced in the House of Representatives failed to get approval in the Senate.  On December 3, 2019, a large group of advocates (automakers, tech companies and other stakeholders) were brought together in Washington by the Coalition for Future Mobility to lobby Congress to create federal regulations to accelerate the pace of AV development and commercial services.  It appears that bipartisan politics is interfering with this task. This has forced some states to enact their own regulations and is thus causing a patchwork of regulations across the U.S. The key Congressmen for AV legislation were unable to give any kind of timeline for when the necessary federal regulations might be created. Details are at this link.

In its first foray into Europe, Waymo has acquired Oxford-based AI company Latent Logic.  This company is a spinoff of Oxford University AI research with focus on AVs.  Latent Logic uses imitation learning to teach AVs how to deal with complex behaviour such as a car cutting off another at a roundabout, a pedestrian emerging from a parked car, or a cyclist skidding in rain. More information is at this link.

Telecom giant Huawei has the automotive market in its sight. According to the co-chairman of Huawei, Xu Zhijun, the car is changing along with the needs of the users, and driverless cars are the future. To be clear, Huawei is not planning to get into auto manufacturing itself. Its game plan is to use it 5G expertise and work with incumbent automakers such as SAIC and China Mobile to facilitate high speed low latency communication for CAVs. More information is at this link.

The Volkswagen Group of Germany had set up Volkswagen Autonomy GmbH some time ago to focus and advance its plans for AVs.  Volkswagen Autonomy has now created a Silicon Valley subsidiary which is based at VW’s Innovation and Engineering Center California in Belmont. VW Autonomy anticipates hiring 50 to 100 experts in systems engineering and architecture this year. VW expects the first use cases for autonomous vehicles to be in the commercial sector such as goods transportation or automated taxis. More information is at this link.

To ensure the safety of AI-driven systems such as AVs or robotics, a whole raft of new standards and guidelines is expected to emerge in 2020.  At present, standards/guidelines for automated driving have been published by SAE, IEEE, ISO, UL and other organizations. To ensure these do not overlap or leave gaps, IEEE will undertake a review of all existing standards/guidelines including those of its own from its various societies, e.g. Vehicular Technology Society (VTS), Computer Society (CS), Intelligent Transportation Systems Society (ITSS) and others.  More information is at this link.

And finally, some news on non-Canadian companies in the CAV and related technologies space from the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas:
  • Aptiv gives a reporter rare access to its Las Vegas Technical Centre (LVTC). Details are here.
  • Russian company Yandex demonstrated its self-driving car at CES. Details here.
  • Daimler Benz CEO (Olla Källenius) gave a keynote speech about a concept car inspired by one of the most innovative entertainment brands, envisioning a completely new form of interaction between humans, technology and nature. Details here.
  • Reuters has an interesting report on how automakers are planning to copy the business model for smartphones and connected TVs to continuously generate revenue from the cars they sell, e.g. offering streaming video, vehicle performance upgrades, dashboard commerce, etc. They have teamed up with Microsoft, Blackberry and Amazon Web Services and others to achieve this. Details here.
  • Here are a selection of other self-driving car and vehicle technology topics at CES 2020. Details are here and here.
  • All exhibitors in the ‘Self-driving Technology’ category at the CES 2020. Details here.

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 speakers@cavcoe.com

Upcoming AV-Related Events

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

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

April 21-22, 2020: 4th International VDI Autonomous Trucks Conference, Munich, Germany

Jun 2-4, 2020: 2020 TU-Automotive Detroit, Novi MI

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

Jan 6-9, 2021 Consumer Electronic Shows (CES), Las Vegas NV

TBA, 2021: Canadian Automated Snow Plow Conference, Toronto 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 2020
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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