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Lawmakers look at the future of autonomous vehicles in Canada

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Lawmakers look at the future of autonomous vehicles in Canada

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Whether you want them or not, autonomous vehicles are coming to a city near you. So it’s good to see our lawmakers are looking seriously at what that means and what needs to be done to ensure driven and driverless cars coexist happily in the same space.

The work culminated in ‘Driving Change: Technology and the future of the automated vehicle’. A document that spans 75 pages, includes testimonies from 78 witnesses and input from automakers, government and other interested parties. While it isn’t exactly bedtime reading, it is exactly the type of organized approach we would hope from government.

‘Driving Change: Technology and the future of the automated vehicle’ covers a lot of ground. It discusses security, insurance, repair, technology, innovation and lots of other elements. It seems balanced too, with no obvious bias either for or against autonomous vehicles. That in itself is a sure sign that the subject is being taken seriously. Each party in each camp had a fair hearing and concerns from each appear in the document.

Those against autonomous vehicles were given as much airtime as those promoting them and there is a real balance struck between the two opposing views. One key suggestion was for the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada who are for autonomous driving to form an interest group alongside the ISED and Transport Canada who are more cautious of autonomous vehicles and work things out between them.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of attention was given to the fact that most collisions are caused by human error. The opinion that computers won’t make the same errors, therefore making the roads safer was used a lot. While correct in theory, anyone who has used a computer in the last 30 years or so knows only too well that they are far from error-free and infallible!

The same for traffic reduction. One thing mentioned in the report that didn’t occur to me was the fact that traffic may not be reduced at all. The idea that cars will communicate with each other to reduce congestion was countered by the suggestion that autonomous cars driving themselves home or parking themselves would add more traffic, not less to our cities.

However this plays out, it is good to see the government taking it seriously and planning ahead for when the future arrives. And it will arrive. Perhaps not in the next few years like automakers seem to think, but it is coming. At least Canada has a decent chance of being ready for when it does.

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