September 2018

AV Update

 From the Editors

In the August 2018 issue, we described how various countries have created national AV organizations to help propel the AV ecosystems in their countries and how Canada has no such organization -- until now.

The Canadian Automated Vehicles Institute (CAVI) - Institut canadien du Véhicule Autonomatisé (ICVA) was announced on September18th. It will be a new Canadian national institute to help develop and implement national strategies in the automated and connected vehicles ecosystem.  CAVI will be an industry-led not-for-profit association open to all public and private sector organizations involved in any way with the AV/CV ecosystem. The start of operations is planned for 1Q19.

CAVI is pleased to announce six Founding Partners: Alberta Council of Technologies (ABCtech), CAVCOE (formerly the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence), DOT Technology, Kanata North Business Association, Invest Ottawa, and movmi Shared Transportation Services.

To help Canada do more and do better in the AV/CV space, CAVI has five key objectives:
  • To accelerate the safe and successful introduction of AVs in Canada;
  • To help move Canada from #7 in the KPMG ranking that measures the AV preparedness of 20 countries to the top 3;
  • To become the trusted source for educating the public, businesses and all levels of government about the opportunities and challenges associated with fleets of automated, connected, electric and shared (FACES) vehicles;
  • To help Canadian governments and industry prepare for the socio-economic impacts of widespread AV/CV deployment, and
  • To develop a Canadian AV/CV brand and promote our AV/CV capability at a national and international level. To achieve the above objectives, CAVI will:
The full CAVI news release is here. If you would like additional information, please contact Barrie Kirk at

Canadian AV News
On Sep. 13th, Uber Technologies CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, unveiled plans for investing up to $200 million to set up an R&D centre in the Toronto area. The focus will be on applying AI to AVs, electric scooters and more carpooling choices. Uber and other technology companies consider Canada as an AI/ML powerhouse with major research expertise in Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton.  More information is here.

BlackBerry CEO, John Chen, says driverless cars could be fully loaded weapons if hacked. More lines of code are present in an AV than in a fighter jet according to Mr. Chen. And the software codes are from different vendors. This presents plenty of opportunities for hackers to compromise an AV.  More information is here.

The City of Calgary’s AV shuttle pilot project (ELA) was officially launched on September 8th.  The pilot will run till the end of September 2018 and it is free to the public.  Rides can be pre-booked through ELA's website.  The City partnered with 12 companies and organizations to pull this project together. This included Pacific Western Transportation (supplier of the leased EasyMile shuttle), Telus, Novatel, University of Calgary, ATCO and others. More information is at this link.

The ELA team will move to Edmonton after the Calgary pilot has been completed. Once there, the University of Alberta will carry out a study of how the vehicle performs in cold and snowy weather conditions. More information is at this link.

In parallel, Keolis Canada and the City of Candiac QC, supported by the Québec Government with the collaboration of Propulsion Québec, the Cluster for Electric and Smart Transportation and the Technopôle IVÉO have launched a pilot project using an electric autonomous shuttle on public roads carrying regular traffic, which is an important first in Canada. The shuttle will complement public transit and allow people to reach their destinations more easily. More details are here.

International AV News

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) confirmed US$30 million investment for autonomous vehicle testing facilities in Michigan. The project involves upgrades to FCA's existing test facilities in Chelsea MI to enhance development and evaluation of self-driving vehicles. More information is at this link.

The U.S. House of Representatives Transportation Highways and Transit Subcommittee held a hearing on September 5th and heard from a number of state and local transportation officials on the  need for a national framework to guide the testing and operation of self-driving vehicles. Sharing of the data was identified as being critical in future development of AVs. This is because competing AV companies have large proprietary depositories of data that they keep to themselves for competitive reasons.  More information is at this link.

On August 22nd, the Wall Street Journal published an article by Ralph Nader titled Driverless-Car Legislation Is Unsafe at This Speed.  In this article, Mr. Nader expresses reservations about the safety of AVs in the absence of solid regulations by the U.S. Congress. More information on Mr. Nader’s article is at this link

On a related point, the U.S. Senate bill known as America Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies (AV START), which was introduced in December 2017, is now in limbo due to opposition by some Senators and organizations such as the National Governors Association and the League of Cities. More information is at this link

The Global Automotive & Mobility Challenge (GAMIC) was created to identify innovative early-stage automotive products / systems, mobility companies and to cultivate new technologies and solutions. GAMIC is currently accepting online applications from startup companies active in this space. More information is here.  

Beyond trendy names like Tesla and Alphabet chasing self-driving cars dominance, a host of auto brands and other tech heavyweights are also investing in autonomous vehicles. There are at least 46 other companies working on AVs or some aspects of AVS. More information is here.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra sees the future of transportation in electrification, autonomy, connectivity and sharing.  She states that GM is hiring an electrical engineer or software engineer every 26 minutes to put GM at the forefront of these initiatives. She expands on these and GM's automotive technology strategy in a recent interview.  More information is at this link

Udacity launched its self-driving engineer course nearly 2 years ago and has graduated many students since. One graduate used his skills to set up a self-driving truck company, Flux Auto, in India where the conditions for such vehicles is very challenging. More information is at this link.

Mercedes-Benz has unveiled a new concept called Urbanetic where an electric autonomous chassis can double up as a passenger AV or a cargo AV.  The switch from one mode to the other is based on demand in what Mercedes describes as an IT infrastructure, which uses computer learning and real-time traffic information and a supply and demand model allowing Urbanetic to switch between cargo and passenger bodies as and when they're needed. More information is at this link.

In somewhat similar thinking, Volvo Trucks has developed an autonomous truck without a driver’s cab and the usual manual controls such as steering wheel or pedals.  The vehicle called Vera is intended for short-haul operations within a trucking terminal, a port or other similar facilities. More information is at this link.

The UK's Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV)  has published a recent report summarizing many AV R&D projects currently in progress in that country.   The report can be downloaded from CCAV's website at this link

We have often said that one of the key downsides of AVs is job displacement -- and the associated push-back from unions. WCMH-TV, the NBC affiliate in Columbus OH, has reported that bus drivers have threatened to strike if autonomous buses are introduced there.

There is a fascinating, behind the scenes look at how Waymo handles the maintenance and deployment of its fleet of over 600 self-driving cars in Arizona as part of its Early Rider program. Waymo is learning the details of fleet management in preparation for launching a commercial ride-hailing service in Phoenix area in the near future.  More information is at this link

And finally, BMW Motorrad has conducted two years of R&D to devise a self-driving motorcycle.  BMW states that the main aim is to bring driver-assistance systems to motorcycles similar to those developed for cars, such as lane keeping and automatic emergency braking.  More information is at this link.

Upcoming AV-Related Events

Oct. 9-11, 2018 ADAS to Automated Driving Symposium by SAE - Detroit, Michigan 

Oct. 10, 2018 AutoTech Symposium –  Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research (WatCAR), Waterloo, Ontario

Oct. 16-17, 2018 ADAS & Autonomous Vehicles USA – Novi, Michigan

Oct. 23-25, 2018   Autonomous Vehicle Safety Regulation World Congress - Novi, Michigan

Oct. 23-25, 2018  Autonomous Vehicle Test & Development Symposium - Novi, Michigan 

Oct. 25, 2018  Forum on Autonomous Vehicles by AQTR – Montreal, Quebec

Oct. 30 – Nov. 1, 2018  Unmanned Canada 2018 – Conference & Trade Show, Unmanned Systems Canada; Vancouver BC

Oct. 31 – Nov. 2, 2018   3rd International Driverless Vehicle Summit organized by Australia & New Zealand Driverless Vehicle Initiative (ADVI) - Adelaide, Australia

Nov. 7, 2018  Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Next Steps for Investment, Innovation and Deployment – London, England

Nov. 14-16, 2018  Tech.AD, Detroit, Michigan

June 2-5, 2019 Canadian Institute of Transportation Engineers (CITE) annual conference at the Westin hotel in Ottawa

Sep. 22-25, 2019  Joint TAC and ITS Canada conference – Halifax, Nova Scotia

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

Chief Editor: Ahmad Radmanesh
Contributor to this issue: Barrie Kirk, Paul Godsmark

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© CAVCOE 2018
(formerly the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence) provides advice to public and private sector organizations to help them prepare for the arrival of self-driving vehicles

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Please note that we have a new company name and from now on we will use CAVCOE  alone, rather than Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence