Preparing for a Driverless Future

Partially-automated Vehicles are already driving through the streets of Toronto. Automated features, such as lane assist, cruise control, and automated braking, are offered by most major auto manufacturers. Policy-makers now need to turn their attention to fully-automated vehicles, which have the potential to completely transform our existing transportation system and reshape the way Torontonians live and work.
 
As Chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee (PWIC), I was proud to see the first-ever report on Automated Vehicles (AVs) presented to Committee, as a result of a motion I moved in 2016. I have been pushing for this report for a long time. Whether we like it or not, mobility digitization is advancing rapidly, and it is our job as policy-makers to establish a regulatory framework to govern new technologies.  
 
After hearing presentations from several researchers, I directed Transportation staff to work with other municipal and academic leaders specializing in vehicle automation. In particular, I have been a strong supporter of the burgeoning partnership between the City of Toronto and the University of Toronto Transportation Research Institute (UTTRI). The UTTRI functions as an intermediary between government, corporate, and academic stakeholders—connections we must foster to craft balanced and sustainable policies in the future. We need to understand how automated technology will impact road safety, traffic congestion, mobility equity, and the environment. In order to do so, City Hall must leverage the fantastic work underway at the universities and research institutes across Toronto.
 
As a City, we are creating models and establishing best practices that can be shared around the world. Our Interdivisional Working Group on AVs is one of the first of its kind, and we were also the first city in North America to create a full-time position devoted exclusively to AVs. At the January meeting, I urged the members of PWIC to embrace our position at the forefront of AV preparation, and stressed the futility of fighting against inevitable technological advancement. To be proactive on this issue, policy-makers will need to look beyond the myopia of the present day to visualize the future of our City in the long-term.
 
City Hall was slow to act on the first wave of mobility digitization: vehicle-for-hire services such as Uber. To avoid repeating past mistakes, I moved a motion requesting Transportation staff to report back to PWIC in the first quarter of 2019 with a comprehensive tactical plan including specific interdivisional recommendations for AV preparation and policy. This crucial work brings us one step closer to preparing for a potentially driverless future in the City of Toronto.
 
For more information on AVs, please see the full Transportation Services Report, dated January 5, 2018. A copy of my motions can be found here.

 As the Chair of Transportation, I was pleased to see one of the City's most important research partners, UTTRI, at City Hall to speak about the first-ever report on Toronto's preparation for AVs.

As the Chair of Transportation, I was pleased to see one of the City's most important research partners, UTTRI, at City Hall to speak about the first-ever report on Toronto's preparation for AVs.