Driverless cars are already a reality but Canada is ill-prepared for their arrival, the Senate Committee on Transport and Communications said Monday.
Automated and connected vehicles are the future of transportation. Fully automatic cars will one day be capable of performing virtually all driving tasks, while connected vehicles — cars that can interact with their environment and relay information to the driver — offer new levels of safety and instant access to information.
The committee has been studying these emerging technologies along with the risks and rewards they offer. After questioning experts and taking fact-finding missions to meet top researchers, senators have released a report making 16 recommendations to set Canada up for success.
Broadly speaking, the recommendations urge various government departments to work with innovators to lay the groundwork for policy that will encourage the responsible development of this technology. The committee believes a coordinated national strategy will be necessary to ensure Canadians benefit from these technologies.
A national strategy would also allow the government to prevent potential harms. Strong cybersecurity measures will be necessary to maintain public safety and confidence, and rigorous oversight is required to ensure personal information gleaned from connected and automated vehicles is securely held and not exploited.
Canada cannot afford to delay. Connected and automated vehicle technology is here to stay. The federal government must ensure the country is prepared so that Canadians can take full advantage of the next generation of transportation.
One witness testified that automated vehicles capable of transporting people within a city could be a reality within the next 10 to 15 years.
As many as 94% of collisions are caused by human error and poor decision making. Automated and connected vehicle technology could significantly reduce the number of collisions.
Federal leadership is required to ensure the country is ready for this period of rapid technological change.
“This study should serve as a roadmap for the government. It is essential for Canada to be well-prepared for the fast-approaching future of transportation.” – Senator David Tkachuk, Chair of the committee.
“These new technologies hold great promise but they do not come without risks. Canadians need assurance that their personal information will be protected.” – Senator Patricia Bovey, Deputy Chair of the committee.
“We are on the cusp of a transportation revolution and Canada must be ready. Cities were ill-prepared when ride sharing came to Canada; we cannot afford to repeat this mistake.” – Senator Dennis Dawson, Deputy Chair of the committee.
“This forward-looking report is intended to ensure Canadians benefit from these exciting technological changes while mitigating potential risks. Now it’s up to the government to act.”