Have You Heard of the MTO AV Club?

Remember high school and the AV club? Showing 16mm films in the gym to your classmates? Well that’s a different AV. This AV stands for “automated vehicle” which, as you know, are “driverless or self-driving vehicles that are capable of detecting the surrounding environment using artificial intelligence, sensors and global positioning system coordinates.” Almost a year after establishing the first Canadian self-driving car pilot project the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) will begin testing AVs on Ontario roads.

This program is a collaborative endeavour of MTO, Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure and the Ontario Centres of Excellence. It’s an ambitious program exploring research in: Human Factors; Communications Management; Data Management; Connected and Autonomous in-Vehicle/infrastructure or technologies; Improving Traffic Management and Operations; and Green Technology and Sustainability. If your interested in some background and more information on the Connected Vehicle/Automated Vehicle (CVAV) Program the OCE hosted a webinar last August which attracted a couple of hundred participants.

As reported in the Canadian Underwriter last month the participants in the CVAV program include:

“… the WATCar Project at the University of Waterloo’s Centre for Automotive Research, which will monitor a Lincoln MKZ for performance and test it on-road at different levels of automation; the Erwin Hymer Group, an international auto manufacturer active in the Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont. tech and innovation corridor, which will test and monitor a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van at different levels of automation; and BlackBerry QNX, a Canadian global software development company and subsidiary of BlackBerry, which will test a 2017 Lincoln with automated features.”

It’s encouraging to see some support here for this area of innovation, however as Barrie Kirk, executive director of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence, notes in a recent CBC News story:

“At an international level we have a lot of catching up to do, When I look at the G7 countries, we in Canada are dead last in developing self-driving cars. This is a big and important step forward, but we need a lot more deals like this.”

In the same story Kirk also suggests 80 per cent of automobile accidents could be eliminated with self-driving cars. Robert Love, writing in the Canadian Underwriter, agrees that they could bring a greater level of safety but he warns that there will be,

“… a shift in the determination of liability – thereby impacting underwriting, policies, coverage and the law. Now is the time for insurers to get ahead of the curve and determine the associated risks.”

I’m looking forward to finding out how these self-driving vehicles will interact with regular drivers, both physically and legally, but I’m especially curious to know how they will handle the often challenging driving conditions on our winter roads.

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