In order to fully understand how the decisions we make today will shape how connected and autonomous vehicles and shared mobility services (CASE) will operate in Canada, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) asked the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) to examine this topic in depth.
A Panel of 12 experts was convened including those with expertise and experience in computer, electrical, civil and mechanical engineering, environmental science, computer science, kinesiology, political science, geography, and ethics, along with automotive, information and communication technologies (ICTs), and movmi’s CEO, Sandra Phillips was asked to be part of the panel as an expert in shared mobility. The Panel drew on diverse sources of quantitative and qualitative data, identified and considered relevant evidence, including literature from peer-reviewed publications, reports, publicly available government documents, and grey literature. This was supplemented with interviews with experts from industry and stakeholder groups to obtain additional insights.
In this article, we discuss some key discoveries found in the report including:
- The likelihood of widespread AV adoption in Canada
- How the transportation industry will change with the arrival of AVs
- How present day planning and policies will affect the future of CASE vehicles in Canada
- Will AV technology create environmental and health benefits?
- How current shared mobility applications will help us understand the impact and challenges on future CASE vehicles
Read the Council of Canadian Academies full report here. Keep reading for a summary of key discoveries.
Choosing Canada’s Automotive Future: CASE Panel – Report Summary
When will Canada see widespread adoption of av technology?
Connected, autonomous, shared, and electric vehicles (CASE) have the potential to completely change and improve how society moves from point A to B. CASE vehicles, if implemented and executed successfully, have the capacity to increase vehicle and road safety, reduce travel time, reduce emissions and increase people’s mobility choices. They exhibit the best that science and engineering has to offer.
With the advancements in AV technology over the last decade, it’s easy to believe that their arrival on Canadian roads is imminent. As of today, we still have mostly prototypes of low-speed AV shuttles, taxis and some delivery vehicle on the roads. These vehicles (with fully automated driving capabilities under restricted route conditions) are typically conceived as shared mobility solutions that operate on a fixed route with shared right-of-way.
They carry between 4 and 15 passengers, though some companies are exploring smaller pods for one or two people. The Pacific Western Group of Companies has been running an electric autonomous shuttle, which can carry up to 12 passengers at a time, in pilot projects across western Canada since September 2018. In Montréal, Transdev Canada launched a pilot autonomous shuttle service (Easy Mile) in June 2019 that navigated a 1.4 km route through normal traffic in a dense urban environment.
In a review of the state of the practice, these vehicles are considered largely prototypes, since frequent software and hardware updates are still needed, and appropriate use cases and evaluation metrics for performance are still unclear. However these pilot projects have the potential to solve the “first and last’ mile problem. The commercial deployment of such shuttle services appears highly likely, particularly in localized areas such as airports, public transit routes, hospitals, assisted living communities, and educational or industrial campuses.
However there still remains some uncertainty about the widespread implementation of AV vehicles – will this happen soon and if yes, will they be accepted easily into Canadian society? Realizing widespread adoption of CASE vehicles will require overcoming significant technical and societal challenges, the likelihood of which are debated because of the uncertainty associated with the technology.
In fact, Canada ranks 13th out of 30 countries in consumer acceptance of connected and autonomous vehicles in KPMG’s Autonomous Vehicle Readiness Index. According to a 2018 Ipsos survey, Canada has one of the highest rates of resistance to autonomous vehicles, and Canadians were more likely to say they would not use a self-driving car and were less interested in owning one or sharing one compared with the rest of the world.
So, while the results of these AV pilots are very promising, with a lack of public support, it might prove difficult to achieve widespread adoption, especially when full automation is still outside our reach with current technology.
HOW WILL THE INDUSTRY CHANGE WITH THE ARRIVAL OF AVS?
It was estimated that operating costs for buses could decrease by 53% in a fully autonomous bus system in Japan, largely because of the reduction in salary expenditures. Decreasing operating costs through automation could prove attractive for many Canadian municipalities, though the expert Panel noted that up-front costs for new buses, coupled with current operating deficits and the potential for job losses among transit operators, may slow or limit the uptake among transit authorities.
However, the introduction AVs will create new jobs that will hopefully, in time, replace jobs eliminated by automation. The mass production and manufacturing of CASE vehicles is likely to fundamentally change the industrial structure of Canada’s automotive sector. CASE vehicles also create opportunities for research and development expansion within industry. Despite the profound impacts of electrification and enhanced ICT content in future vehicles, CASE vehicles will still require parts and components suppliers that are currently integral to Canada’s automotive manufacturing sector.
The move to CASE vehicle production networks will also open many new opportunities in both manufacturing and services, for example:
- Battery production and recycling
- AI and sensor technologies
- Fleet management
- Transportation infrastructure
- Cyber security
- Customer services
- Financial services
- Insurance products
Canadian ICT companies will need to overcome the known challenges associated with bringing new innovative products to the global market. They will also have to integrate with the different timelines, standards, and expectations of the automotive sector, and vice versa, in order to sustain lasting relationships.
present-day planning and policy decisions will affect how, when and where CASE vehicles are used in Canada in the future
If we really want to see CASE vehicles on Canadian roads within the next 10 years and beyond, we need to start planning for it today and taking it into consideration in our policy decisions. All levels of government as well as a range of state functions such municipal planners, transit authorities, and civil engineers, among others, need to work together to actively plan for the potential impacts that CASE vehicles will have on our urban centres that are already struggling with congestion, curbside management, and the balance between commercial and personal vehicles.
Some things that we need to consider today are:
- Infrastructure upgrades and maintenance
- Electrical and communication network demands
- Street design changes to cope with the increased demand for pick-up and drop-off locations for shared and autonomous delivery services.
- Higher travel demands that comes with greater accessibility
- Empty vehicles travelling autonomously may add to issues of congestion and traffic management.
- The positive or negative effect CASE vehicles will have on public transit ridership
Mobility planning must consider multi-modal travel and the decisions we make today will influence their convenience, costs, and usage in the future. Reductions in congestion may require policy tools such as introducing congestion pricing, incentivizing ride sharing, and prioritizing public transit and active transportation infrastructure, all of which are independent of advancements in vehicle technology. Proactive management and decision making will help ensure that CASE vehicles improve mobility rather than create more mobility challenges within our cities.
av technology won’t necessarily TRANSLATE into environmental or health benefits
Even though electric, AV and shared mobility services have the potential to create environmental and health benefits in the future, it really comes to down human travel behaviour. For example, mobility behaviours that lower the total vehicle kilometres travelled (e.g., ride sharing, active transportation, public transit) are essential to improving air quality, congestion, and public health in Canada.
That said, CASE vehicle technology can definitely to improve air quality and lower greenhouse gas emissions. On the flip, the reverse is also true. If demand for vehicles increases so to does a decrease in air quality and an increase in congestion.
CASE vehicles have the ability to provide health benefits by reducing injuries and fatalities from vehicle collisions, but this can only occur alongside fully formulated safety standards for the use of these vehicles. This can also lead to improved safety for other road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, potentially encouraging active transportation. Again, on the flip side of this, an uptick in CASE vehicles users may also lead to a d decrease in physical/active transportation.
studying current shared mobility
applications will help you understand the potential impact and challenges of CASE vehicles
Shared mobility services are the petri-dish when it comes to data collection, liability/insurance, user acceptance, operational challenges. Part of the challenge of predicting the impacts of CASE vehicles on the Canadian economy, environment, and people is that it will be determined by the collective decisions of many participants across many different sectors. Many of these challenges aren’t just unique to CASE vehicles. This is why we recommend using shared mobility services and models as a basis for comparison, to help get a better understanding of the impact CASE might have in the future.
For example, once CASE vehicles hit Canadian roads, the demand for training and skillsets will shift if driving jobs are lost. We will see demand rise for fleet maintenance, inventory management, cyber/tech security or other services very similar to those that are necessary for shared mobility operators and tech providers to function. By analyzing the data, policies and decisions made when creating successful shared mobility models, this can then be applied to the roll out of CASE vehicles when the time is right.
It’s obvious from the final report that the issues facing CASE vehicle development and deployment are highly complex. Resolving these challenges will require coordinated decision-making among relevant government authorities at all levels, as well as relevant associations within the industry. While the future of AV technology is still uncertain, the decisions we make today will influence the adoption of CASE vehicles in the next few decades. This is why we should use the case studies and data provided by current operational shared mobility providers who face the many of the same unique challenges as CASE vehicles.