Autonomous Vehicle Regulations: A Recap of the Swiss Canadian Innovation Day

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If you didn’t know, we presented at the Swiss Canadian Innovation Day last month, which was a one-day educational workshop focusing on the imminent autonomous vehicle (AV) revolution. Created to allow for business relations, best-practice debates and expert discussions between the two countries, the event showcased some of the latest innovations in autonomous vehicle technology.

Autonomous vehicle regulations

Arnd N. Bätzner, a researcher at ETH Switzerland and also is a board member with Mobility, Switzerland’s carsharing, opened the discussion on regulation with his keynote. During the presentation, Arnd pointed out one of the major benefits of AV transportation: it will extend catchment areas for public transit. The top two deterrents for people who currently don’t use public transit are non-proximity to access transport systems and discomfort associated with modal changes.

So AV’s have enormous potential but of course, one of the biggest components to making autonomous vehicles a part of everyday life is the regulations. Who’s responsible when something goes wrong? How will a government ensure justice if someone is hurt by an autonomous vehicle accident, or worse? This is something we touched on in our presentation, which was entitled: What can autonomous vehicles learn from shared mobility? 

The top three regulations we outlined in this presentation were:

  1. Pick-up: Where and when passengers can be picked up safely without causing congestion.
  2. Roaming: Regulation on vehicle roaming and deadheading (the driving around of an empty autonomous vehicle that is looking for the next passenger).
  3. Safety: Regulation on what is considered a safe AV experience for passengers.

In addition to sorting out parking in a city and building trust for the consumer, the above three regulations need to be secured in order to introduce AVs in a smart, human-centric, and efficient way that will truly solve some of today’s biggest urban transportation challenges.

Happening Now in switzerland: Public Autonomous Shuttles

While our regulations are not yet ready for a mass rollout of AV technoloy, small public autonomous pilot projects are already up and running in some places.

post auto smart shuttle

Post Auto Smart Shuttle is pioneering public transportation in Switzerland with their automated shuttle bus. As of October, 2017, SmartShuttle has transported 30,000 passengers at the maximum allowed speed of 20km/hour, for a total operation time of 2,500 hours or 7,000 kms. While this pilot has proved the concept of AV busses, there is still a lot of  work needed for improvement in the technology as well as the market acceptance of this form of transportation.

Schaffhausen in Switzerland also is experimenting with an autonomous shuttle bus. They actually integrated the shuttle in the existing public transit route network and are using available infrastructure such as bus stops of a smaller neighbouring town, Neuhausen am Rheinfall.

Both presenters agree that that the major area that still needs to be nailed-down, remains the regulatory framework around AV transportation.

Canada’s AV Landscape

Barrie Kirk from CAVCOE’s presentation at SCID gave us an in-depth look at what’s happening with the AV landscape in Canada. While behind Switzerland in terms of functioning pilot projects, Canada’s autonomous vehicle industry is growing behind the scenes. The Federal Government has invested $70M to develop AV regulatory frameworks in Canada, and Ontario has begun looking at Regulations for AV pilot trials and their long-term vision for transportation.

The delegation of the SCID event then was invited to visit a few of the most forward thinking companies in Kanata. We could sit in QNX Blackberry’s first self-driving vehicle which was tested in Stratford, Ontario mid October. Irdeto, another innovative company in this space, focuses on cyber security of AV technology. In fact, we all had a chance to try out and hack a self-driving vehicle without proper cybersecurity at their demo station.

Are you interested in learning more about our presentation on AV regulations or get introduced to any of the projects presented at the SCID? Contact us here.


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