April 2019

AV Update

From the Editors

AVs, CVs and EVs are closely intertwined. A recent article in The Economist described China’s plans for the electrified, autonomous and shared car of the future. Some key points were:

  • China  wants to use industrial policy to overtake the West on the road to the future -- including the car of the future.
  • A key component of this is a “strategy to dominate” electric vehicles.
  • China is a huge producer of batteries and wants to be the biggest in the world, in the same way that it has become the dominant provider of solar panels.
  • China's charging infrastructure is far ahead of the rest of the world’s. Beijing has more public charging points than Germany.
  • Colin McKerracher of Bloomberg goes so far as to suggest that the current rapid rate of growth in electric-vehicle sales may mean that sales of cars powered by internal-combustion engines in China have already peaked.
  • The speed with which China is taking the lead in electrification puts it in a good position to profit from its convergence with two other distinct but related big shifts in transport: autonomy and sharing.

Given that China is the world's largest importer of oil and that transportation accounts for about 40% of global energy demand, a drop in China's demand for oil has global consequences. Thought leaders predict that we will soon see a global peak demand for oil and thereafter the demand for oil and the price will decrease.  Canada will be particularly susceptible because its oil is more expensive and will be among the first to be impacted by decreasing demand and price.

In Canada, there is too little strategic thinking. In this election year, politicians are quick to support new pipelines -- with taxpayers' money in many cases -- but there is little consideration or discussion of whether the pipelines will be needed by 2030. The long-term oil glut is not a Canadian issue but a global one that Canada cannot change. Some thought leaders forecast that by 2030, the global oil and pipeline industry as we have known it for the last 100 years will be on life support.

It is important that Canada invests tax payer dollars into the jobs and technologies of the 21st Century -- not those of the 20th Century.

Canadian AV News
CAV Canada 2019, Canada's largest CAV conference is taking shape. Organized by Invest Ottawa, the Kanata North Business Association and CAVCOE, the two-day conference will include a wide range of keynotes, panels and -- on the afternoon of Day 2 -- a tour of the Ottawa L5 test track and local companies in the CAV space. An overview of the program is shown below:

Mon Sept 9

Welcome and opening comments

Keynotes #1 and #2

Panel 1: The global view


Mon Sept 9 Afternoon

Panel 2: AV technology

Panel 3: Business planning for the AV era

Panel 4: CV technology

Panel 5: Government planning, regulations and policies

Networking reception in exhibit area

Tues Sept 10 Morning

Panel 6: CAV testing and pilots

Panel 7: Socio-economic impacts of CAVs

Panel 8: Preview of Canada in 2030 and beyond

Tues Sept 10 Afternoon

The afternoon of Day 2 will comprise a visit to L5, the new Ottawa CAV test track, and visits to local tech companies in the CAV space.

Colour code:  Plenary sessions  /  Stream A: Technology development and testing  /  Stream B: Deployment planning

We will have additional details of the conference in next month's issue of AV Update.

Montreal based Marcon has published a 48-page report titled ‘Accelerating the transition to ZEVs in shared and autonomous fleets’. The report explores transition to zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) among shared use passenger car fleets (such as Car2Go) used within new mobility models for the movement of people. The report includes an assessment of electromobility at SAE Levels 4 and 5 of automation which can drastically impact the mobility of people and goods and result in new business models. Shared mobility business models involve services that provide mobility on demand, specifically taxi services, car sharing and ride hailing. These shared mobility services, particularly ride hailing, are expected to continue to experience significant growth. A copy of the report can be downloaded at this link

Telecom company Rogers is planning a significant investment in British Columbia to lay the groundwork for 5G technology.  This is being done in collaboration with the University of British Columbia’sClean, Connected and Safe Transportation Testbed’.  The testbed is composed of five distinct laboratories focused on renewables to transportation, low carbon fuels, autonomous connected vehicles, safe and connected infrastructure, and smart city design. More information is at this link 

AVs found their way into the recent Alberta provincial elections. ‘The Alberta Party’ made introducing AVs one of their election platforms.  The party proposed to spend up to $1.6 billion on the QE2 highway between Edmonton and Calgary adding one lane in each direction (261 Km) and making it suitable to deploy AVs on this highway. According to the Alberta Party, AVs can bring $10 billion of economic benefit to Alberta and coupled with AI, the potential to expand Canada’s economy by 1.6% ($26 billion). More information is at this link 

In an effort to be more environmentally friendly, Richmond, B.C. based ‘Novex Delivery Solution’ is using Tesla Model 3 electric vehicles to make its deliveries in the Vancouver area. The Model 3 is equipped with limited self-driving features.  Novex puts this vehicle’s self-driving features to the test in the urban environments of Vancouver and surrounding cities. They report that in congested areas such as downtown Vancouver, the self-drive system works only 5% of the time. In less congested areas, such as those in Richmond, Surrey and Delta, the performance improves to about 45%. They also report that the Model 3 is unable to recognize certain traffic signs, to make right or left turns without help or handle construction zones. More information is at this link.

Major mining companies across the world are big fans of large autonomous haulage systems (AHS). UK-based Rio Tinto is the world’s largest owner and operator of AHS trucks. It is planning to increase its automated truck fleet from 80 to 140 by the end of 2019. The company reports that on average, each autonomous truck at Rio Tinto’s mine operated for 700 hours longer than conventional haul trucks during 2017, with 15% cuts in load/haul costs and zero injuries. Komatsu, Caterpillar, Scania and Volvo Trucks are the main suppliers of AHS trucks.  It is expected that 150 trucks will be deployed in the Canadian oil sands over the next seven years. More information is at this link

On a related AHS matter, the world’s largest mining company – Australia’s BHP,  has reported a collision between two of its autonomous trucks deployed at its Jimblebar iron ore mine in the Pilbara, Western Australia. It is thought significant rainfall may have contributed to this mishap. BHP added that no one was working in the direct area of the collision at the time, and no one was injured during the incident. An investigation into the cause of the incident is under way.  BHP owns and operates 50 autonomous trucks in its mining operations. More information is at this link

Canada’s Magna International is a powerhouse in the automotive sector. It has more than 300 manufacturing sites, staffed by more than 160,000 employees. The firm is running more than 100 separate R&D programs.  It builds components for many car makers as well as building complete cars under contract.  It is also quite active in newer areas of automotive industry such as electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles. It has partnerships with BMW, Intel and Lyft among others for developing self-drive technology. More information is at this link.

International AV News
It has become fairly common for traditional car makers and technology companies to team up for developing autonomous vehicle technologies. One of the latest is the partnership between S. Korea’s Hyundai Mobis and Russia’s Yandex N.V..  Yandex is Russia’s largest Internet search engine company. It also entered ride-sharing arena when it took over Uber’s operations in Russia. Hyundai and Yandex have now signed an agreement to jointly work on developing driverless technology.  Yandex was also in talks with Renault SA to collaborate on AVs with the French company.  More information is at this link.

The City of Monheim, Germany and autonomous shuttle maker Easy Mile will launch a permanent AV shuttle service in that city this Fall. The service will operate daily from 7:00am to 11:00pm. It will employ five Easy Mile EZ10 shuttles and provide public transportation over a 2 Km route in Monheim. More information is at this link.

The UK government has invested more than £500 million (about CAN $870 million) in Connected & Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) technologies to support these nascent industries.  A new report titled ‘Connected & Autonomous Vehicles, Winning the Global Race to Market’ by UK's ‘Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ and Frost & Sullivan predicts an economic benefit to UK of £62bn by 2030.  It also estimates that 420,000 new jobs will be created and more than 47,000 serious accidents prevented. More information is at this link.


Staying with UK, in March 2019, The Department for Transport (DfT) published a 78-page report titled ‘Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy,  Moving Britain Ahead’. This detailed report is excellent. It sets out the strategies envisioned by DfT to bring the socio-economic benefits of transportation innovations to Britain. Connected & Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) are among the many strategies contained in the report. More information and the download link are at this link

Humans must pass tests before they are allowed behind the wheel, but there are still no comparable evaluations for cars driven by computers. Public streets have become a “living laboratory,” and to some people, this is a dangerous experiment that no one consented to and cannot opt out of. To address this issue, Uber has sponsored a study conducted by Rand Corporation. Rand’s 91-page report titled ‘Measuring Automated Vehicle Safety - Forging a Framework’ looks into all aspects of safety as it relates to automated vehicles.  More information is at this link.   A copy of the report can be downloaded from Rand Corporation’s website at this link

In a somewhat related subject, there are currently no globally accepted standards for automated vehicles. In an effort to address this, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and a safety software company called Edge Case Research are working on a draft document dubbed UL 4600. They plan to bring together all sorts of collaborators in this nascent project to flesh out the draft document. Organizations with backgrounds in standards writing, aviation, major developers like Waymo, Cruise and Uber, small self-driving startups, independent researchers, car companies, and perhaps people from the U.S. Department of Transportation are sought by UL.  Currently, the closest thing to a standard is the ‘International Organization of Standards’ (ISO) whose ISO 26262 was set eight years ago. This standard outlines safety in electrical or electronic car systems. More information is at this link.


ITS America has published a 43-page Whitepaper titled ‘Driverless Cars and Accessibility: Designing the Future of Transportation for People with Disabilities’. The report focuses on what the developers of future driverless transportation systems need to take into account to make life easier for people with disabilities. By law, the ‘Americans with Disabilities Act’ (ADA) of 1990, along with state and local provisions, mandate accessibility requirements in transportation, with ADA applying to both public and private ground transportation.  CAVCOE's Barrie Kirk contributed to this work. The report can be downloaded from ITS America's website at this link.


Walmart -- the world’s largest retailer (11,348 stores and clubs in 27 countries) -- is planning to deploy many robots in its stores to relieve its workers from repeatable, predictable and manual work. Tasks such as scanning boxes from delivery trucks and sorting them, scanning shelves for inventory and scrubbing floors will be gradually delegated to robotic devices. More information is at this link.


The ‘Trolley Problem’ is often cited as an ethical issue in future deployment of automated vehicles.  It is argued that human-like ethics and judgement cannot be programmed into an AV to deal with Trolley Problem situations. Some now put forward arguments that this can be resolved by making future automated vehicles intelligent and self-organizing.  The underlying concept is borrowed from quantum mechanics, specifically the ‘Pauli exclusion principle’ which states that no two identical electrons shall occupy the same space.  Similarly, future AVs will operate on the same principal through intelligence and connectivity thus avoiding choices under a Trolley Problem situation. More information is at this link

In the wake of tragic Boeing 737 MAX crashes over the past few months, there are now calls for much more stringent testing and certification for automated vehicles. The aviation industry is considered as the gold standard when it comes to safety and reliability. The software in self-driving cars is composed of millions of lines of code and is far more complicated, and untested, than those in airplanes.  This makes the matter that much more urgent for governments and regulators to ensure the safety and reliability of automated vehicles.  More information is at this link.


In a somewhat related story, General Motors, Ford Motor Company and Toyota Motor Corp. are joining forces with automotive engineering group SAE International to establish autonomous vehicle “safety guiding principles to help inform standards development”. The new group, dubbed the ‘Automated Vehicle Safety Consortium’, will begin by deciding priorities, with a focus on data sharing, vehicle interaction with other road users and safe testing guidelines. More information is at this link.

It is a well-known fact that ride hailing companies like Uber and Lyft have lost massive amounts of money during their short existences. A recent article in The Washington Post argues that the future of Uber, Lyft and other ride hailing companies squarely depends on automated vehicles replacing human drivers at some point in the future.  To this end, both companies have spent considerable sums on developing their own self-driving technologies and have formed partnerships with car makers and other tech companies. The article can be viewed at this link

At a recent event, Ford Motor Company’s CEO – Jim Hackett, tried to inject some reality in how fast automated vehicles might be deployed. While admitting that a lot of hype surrounds AVs, he still maintained that Ford is on track to deploy its own AVs by 2021 albeit in limited and geo-fenced applications. Ford has reportedly spent up to US$4 billion so far on its autonomous vehicle development work. He also said that Ford is in talks with Volkswagen AG to jointly develop electric vehicles and driverless cars. More information is at this link.


California based Proterra Inc. is a maker of electric transit buses and associated electric charging systems. The company has announced that it now wants to incorporate automation into its buses. Proterra is focusing its automation efforts on four areas. They are: Advanced Driver Assistance Sysems (ADAS), In-depot Automation, Platooning and a Fully Autonomous Bus.  More information is at this link.


And finally, if you think automated vehicles are cool technology, some are suggesting adding telepathic controls to its already complex systems.  For example, Nissan is already working on a cap -  think of a Hipster toque with lots of protruding electrodes - for its “brain-to-vehicle” technology. More information is at this link.


Upcoming AV-Related Events

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

April 29 - May 2, 2019: AUVSI's Xponential, Chicago IL

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, 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

June 11-14, 2019: HxGN Love, Las Vegas NV

June 13, 2019: Third Annual Autonomous Vehicle Summit; San Francisco CA.

June 25-27, 2019: Autonomous Ship Technology Symposium, Amsterdam, Netherlands

July 15-18, 2019  AUVSI Automated Vehicle Symposium, Orlando, Florida

Sept 9-10, 2019: CAV Canada 2019, a national CAV conference organized by the Kanata North Business Association, Invest Ottawa and CAVCOE; 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

Oct 2019: World Congress and Challenge for Self-Driving Transport, Dubai, UAE

Oct 21-25, 2019: ITS World Congress, Singapore

Nov 26-27, 2019 The Future of Transportation World Conference,  Vienna, Austria

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

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 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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