EV/AV Report ⁠— November 29, 2019

Safety System Skeptics

Nearly half of Canadian drivers believe advanced vehicle safety technologies pose a risk to overall road safety, according to a recent study published by Desjardins Insurance.

The study explored what Canadians really think about advancing vehicle technology⁠— specifically, their opinions on the usefulness of advanced safety systems such as automatic braking, lane-departure warnings and adaptive cruise control. Results showed that, while 51 percent of respondents believe safety features are necessary to make roads safer, 48 percent of drivers think that vehicle safety technologies pose a risk to road safety. 

“While studies clearly show that crash avoidance and other safety systems in newer cars are reducing collisions and saving lives, the survey’s findings are enough to give us pause,” said  Alain Hade, vice-president of marketing and member client experience for Desjardins. “They are an important reminder that no matter how sophisticated the safety systems, the driver’s vigilance and attention are essential to ensure safe driving, both for the people in the vehicle and those who share the road with motorists.”

Further, 46 percent of respondents said they believe Canadian drivers are often over-reliant on vehicle safety technologies, and 80 percent agreed there should be more education on how to properly use safety features in vehicles.

A September study from the American Automobile Association put this so-called life-saving technology to the test⁠—and the results tie in with the skepticism of Canadian drivers. When AAA tested emergency braking systems in real-world conditions, the systems failed to recognize to dummy pedestrian targets 60 percent of the time.

“The results of our survey lead us to believe that people experienced with the technology have confidence in vehicle safety systems, but not blindly,” said Hade. “Safety technologies are important to prevent injuries and fatalities, but they also have limitations.”

Powering the Pacific

According to the British Columbian government, the province has hit an electrifying new milestone⁠—there are now more than 30,000 electric vehicles on B.C. roads. The province now boasts the highest per-capita sales of EVs in North America.

The B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources says EV sales made up nine percent of light-duty vehicle sales in the first three quarters of 2019⁠—up four percent for 2018’s numbers. The latest data shows there are around 31,200 light-duty EVs registered in the Pacific province.

B.C. has now surpassed even the most sustainably-minded states, including California, where EV sales make up eight percent of all vehicle sales.

The milestone marks the 10th anniversary of the first EVs hitting B.C. roads, as EVs first came to the province ten years ago in November 2009.

“It’s great to see that B.C. drivers are going electric in record numbers,” said Michelle Mungall, minister of energy, mines and petroleum resources. “Thanks to our CleanBC plan, British Columbia is the leader in Canada for clean energy and on track to meet our targets for getting more electric vehicles on the road years ahead of time.”

Uber’s Downtown Digs

On Nov. 4, Uber officially opened the doors to its brand-new engineering hub in Toronto, Ont., where it will delve into research and development on autonomous technology in Canada.

The hub, part of the company’s $200 million investment in Toronto, will focus on designing, developing and continuously updating the infrastructure and backend systems that power Uber’s products, such as its grocery delivery platform. 

The hub is also conducting research in autonomous technology alongside Canadians universities, according to Andrew Macdonald, senior vice-president for Uber’s global operations.

Located at 121 Bloor Street East⁠, the office features five floors, 468 desks, 60 conference rooms, 13 phone booths, two exterior terraces and a library. It marks Uber’s 11th engineering hub globally.

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