December 2018

AV Update

From the Editors

As we enter 2019, all of us here at CAVCOE wish all of you our very best wishes for a prosperous and successful 2019.
On a more somber note, we recently received an email from an industry association that pointed out that 40,000 people die each year on America’s highways each year and 1.25 million people die worldwide. The email said (quite rightly) that this is unacceptable and that we will only get to zero fatalities and serious injuries through CV/AV technology (which is misleading).

It is unfortunate that multiple stakeholders still perpetuate the myth of crash-proof AVs. They need to better manage the public's expectations. There are three realities:

First, CAVs will clearly eliminate many collisions and traffic deaths but will never be 100% safe. A study concluded that drivers are wholly or partially responsible for 93% of traffic deaths. In other words, a minimum of 7% would have happened regardless of whether a human or computer was doing the driving. In addition, as an engineer, I know that all hardware and software fails occasionally. A report CAVCOE co-authored built on this and forecast an 80% reduction in traffic collisions and deaths when we have full deployment -- not a 100% reduction.

Second, the public's expectations are that humans are fallible but that CAV technology will be 100% safe. When stakeholders say CAVs can eliminate all traffic deaths without being more specific, or when governments say that they will keep people safe, this reinforces the public's expectation that the technology will be 100% safe, which is mission impossible.

Third, if this messaging catches on, and when more people are killed in CAV collisions -- which is a matter of when and not if -- the disconnect between the public's expectations and reality will be substantial. This will cause a public and media backlash and this will set the CAV industry back. And paradoxically, a slowdown in CAV deployment will actually cost lives.

We recommend (again) that all stakeholders' messaging on CAV safety be more factual and nuanced.

Canadian AV News

The end of 2018 is a good time to look back on this year's top 10 news stories in the CAV space -- seen through a Canadian lens:

  1. The publication of the report Driving Change by the Standing Senate (of Canada) Committee on Transport and Communications.

  2. GM's announcement that it planned to mass produce a vehicle with no steering wheels or pedals ready for a 2019 launch. (GM has now walked back the exact date but it is obviously close.)

  3. The Ottawa AV Summit 2018 organized by the Kanata North Business Association, Invest Ottawa and CAVCOE was a big success.

  4. The tragic death of Elaine Herzberg in Tempe AZ who was hit by an Uber vehicle in AV mode is still reverberating in the CAV space.

  5. Unmanned Systems Canada announced an Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) Student Competition

  6. The July 2018 issue of AV Update listed 30 Canadian CAV pilots and demos, past, present and future.

  7. Transport Canada published Testing Highly Automated Vehicles in Canada: Guidelines for Trial Organizations.

  8. The Canadian Automated Vehicles Institute (CAVI) was announced. It is a new association that will help develop and implement national strategies to help Canada prepare for the CAV era.

  9. Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport & Digital Infrastructure published a 36-page report titled Ethics Commission Report on Automated & Connected Driving.

  10. CAV Canada 2019, a national conference addressing all aspects of automated and connected vehicles, was announced. This will be the largest CAV event in Canada and will be held in September 2019.

The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) announced on January 31st. that In response to growing stakeholder interest in CAV testing and deployment, advances in AV technology and to ensure economic competitiveness, it has expanded the existing AV pilot regulations in three ways::

  1. Vehicles with SAE level 3 technology that are originally manufactured with a driving automation system, and commercially available for sale in Canada are no longer required to be part of the AV pilot;

  2. Testing of driverless AVs on Ontario’s roads under certain conditions is allowed under the AV pilot; and,

  3. Testing of Cooperative Truck Platoons on Ontario’s roads while under certain operating conditions are also allowed under the AV pilot.

Additional details are here and here.

GM's announcement that it is closing its Oshawa ON plant as part of its strategy to focus on CAVs and EVs was a big shock to many -- but it should not have been. Mary Barra, GM's CEO, has said on multiple occasions that the auto sector will change more in the next 5-10 years than it has in the last 50. Also, CAVCOE and other thought leaders have been saying that as the OEMs shift their focus to Mobility-as-a-Service and driverless taxis, far fewer cars will be built and sold in the 2020s. The challenge for unions, all levels of government and others is to accept the impending arrival of autonomous, connected, and electric vehicles, accept that they will be disruptive, constructively plan for the future -- including re-training opportunities etc. -- and not engage in a futile attempt to extend 20th Century approaches beyond their best-before date.

Unmanned Systems Canada's Automated Snow Plow Student Competition is progressing well. 15 student teams from across the country have expressed interest. USC looks forward to welcoming them to Ottawa in May 2019.

On December 10, 2018, BlackBerry announced a new Security Credential Management System (SCMS) for autonomous/connected vehicles as well as Smart City applications. SCMS is based on BlackBerry’s Certicom technology for secure wireless communication. BlackBerry’s first project using the new SCMS service will be in partnership with Invest Ottawa, which will leverage it within a secure 16-kilometre autonomous vehicle (AV) test track that resembles a miniature city, complete with pavement markings, traffic lights, stop signs, pedestrian crosswalks and is equipped with GPS, DSRC, Wi-Fi, 4G/LTE and 5G.   More information is at this link.

International AV News

On December 5, 2018, Waymo finally launched its much talked about commercial self-driving taxi service in Chandler, Arizona.  The service called Waymo One was under intense development in the Phoenix area for well over a year.  There was extensive media coverage after the launch. Waymo One is currently operating in a 60 sq. mile area in Chandler and surrounding areas where Waymo has its operations and maintenance base. The Waymo vehicles will be operating with a safety driver onboard for now. More information is at this link

In a related development, media reports indicate that not everyone is enthralled by Waymo’s testing of its AV in the Phoenix area. At least 21 cases of violence or threats against Waymo has been reported to police forces in Phoenix area. More information is at this link.

The U.S. Congress is trying to pass the necessary legislation before the end of the year to pave the way for faster development of AV technologies.  The House of Representative had passed the AV Start Act in Fall 2017. Now the Senate will need to do the same for the law to take effect.  If legislators don’t pass this bill by the end of the year, both the House and Senate will have to start over from scratch in the new Congress. More information is at this link.

Ford continues to be quite active in the AV arena. The latest development is Ford’s announcement that it will launch an extensive self-driving pilot in Washington D.C. in 2019.  Ford conducted a number of self-driving demonstrations in Miami and announced a partnership with Walmart to deliver merchandise using self-driving cars. Ford’s vision for developing its self-driving business can be seen in this graphic. There is more information below and at this link.

Volvo is developing self-driving trucks for transporting limestone in a Norwegian mine. Volvo calls this the first commercial autonomous solution transporting limestone from an open pit mine to a nearby port. Six existing autonomous trucks will be upgraded with sophisticated tech, allowing them to deliver raw limestone to a crusher three miles away without any human interaction.  More information is at this link.

Future AVs are supposed to create a lot of spare time for people who no longer have to undertake the driving task.  Audi and Disney think they can fill that void by creating a new form of media designed with AVs in mind. The firms intend to unveil what they have in mind at CES 2019 in January.  More information is at this link.

On December 10, 2018, the Korea Herald reported that Samsung is planning to get into the AV business.  The report indicates that Samsung is reassigning some of its own staff and is aggressively hiring people with at least five-year experience in the field. One major client of Samsung is Tesla. Samsung is developing a System-on-a-chip for Tesla’s Model 3 electric car.  LG Electronics is also mentioned in the report as having an interest in AVs.  More information is at this link.  

The potential impacts of AV technologies are not lost on the insurance industry. A number of reports have been published by major insurance companies on this topic. One of the latest was published in Fall 2018 by Prudential Plc’s Global Investment Management (PGIM) group. The 26-page report titled The Technology Frontier, Investment Implications of Disruptive Technologies delves into impacts of some of emerging technologies including AVs. More information is at this link.

The New York Times on November 27, 2018 printed an article on some of the real-world challenges facing AV developers.  The more likely applications of AVs could be in agriculture, mining and fleets dedicated to city delivery routes.  The article also gives brief profiles on some of the more prominent AV startups.  The article can be read at this link.

Similarly, Forbes magazine published a three-part series of articles on the 15 major hurdles faced by AVs before they can go mainstream.  Forbes indicates that these hurdles fall into four categories: scaling, trust, market viability and secondary effects. Each of these categories are expanded in the three-part series. The articles can be read at this link.

On December 4, 2018, the BBC published a short video on how UK’s Ministry of Defence is developing autonomous military vehicles for future conflicts.  Autonomous weapon technologies (ground, air and marine) are an active area of development (see this link).  The BBC video clip can be viewed at this link.

The UK government continues to pour funds into AV development. One of the latest is a £19m grant for a new AV project in the West Midlands. The Meridan 3 project is led by Warwick Manufacturing Group and Highways England. It will see more motorways and rural routes used in this project. Some £3.3m of the funding will be used to install equipment on the side of motorways as part of the testing. More information at this link.

The UK government has also provided funding of £4.35m to facilitate Scotland's first self-driving bus trial which will run between Fife and Edinburgh next year. This pilot project will include a fleet of five autonomous single-decker buses.  More information is at this link.

Another book on AVs was recently published. The book is titled No One at the Wheel: Driverless Cars and the Road of the Future. The author is Samuel Schwartz, a former traffic commissioner for New York City. The book describes how the driverless vehicle revolution will transform highways, cities, workplaces and laws not only in the U.S. but across the globe.  More information from the New York Times book review is at this link.

And finally, Amazon has developed a US$399 self-driving toy car for web developers wanting to try out some of their own self-driving technology. The toy car can be used to train and tweak machine learning models in an online simulator and then test drive them.  See the photo on the right and there is more information at this link

Upcoming AV-Related Events

Feb 28 – March 1, 2019:  Operational Safe Systems for Level 5 Automation (OSS5), South San Francisco Conference Centre

April 8-9, 2019: Autonomous & Connected Vehicle Europe 2019, Berlin, Germany

April 28 – May 1, 2019:  IEEE Vehicular Technology Conference, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

May 8-9, 2019: IoT613 Conference, Gatineau, Quebec

May 21-23, 2019: Autonomous Vehicle Test & Development Symposium Europe, Stuttgart, Germany

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

June 4-6, 2019: TU-Automotive Detroit conference & exhibition for future auto tech, Novi, MI

June 9-12, 2019:  UITP Global Public Transport Summit; Stockholm, Sweden

Sept 9-10, 2019: CAV Canada 2019, a national CAV conference organized by the Kanata North Business Association, Invest Ottawa and the Canadian Automated Vehicles Institute (CAVI); Brookstreet Hotel, Ottawa

Sept 22-25, 2019:  Joint TAC and ITS Canada conference, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Sept 22-25, 2019: IEEE Vehicular Technology Conference, Honolulu, Hawaii

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

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© CAVCOE 2018
CAVCOE (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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