A Japanese company plans to roll out robotic taxis in 2016, with full commercial deployment by 2020.

By Jeff Sanford

Toronto, Ontario -- November 10, 2015 -- Activity in the automated vehicle (AV) space is accelerating, rapidly. The Canadian Automated Vehicle Centre of Excellence (CAVCOE) is dedicated to researching, tracking and analyzing its development.

CAVCOE has recently released some juicy tidbits for those interested in the development of AVs. The head of CAVCOE, Barrie Kirk, notes that the automotive industry is under “considerable scrutiny” as a result of the VW emissions scandal. Along with increasing AV technologies and worries about car-hacking some wonder whether vehicles have become too complex.

“How do we ensure that such incredibly complex software systems are safe, secure and fit for the purpose? There appears to be no clear answer to this question, but clearly OEMs, developers and regulators will need to find some common ground,” writes Kirk in CAVCOE’s latest report. “AVs quite simply pose more questions than we have answers for right now. This technology is coming like a freight train. If we are ready, great; if we are not, tough, because it is coming anyway.”

- The newsletter goes on to note that AV trials are common. Ontario has been the first region in Canada to move on this. Google now has 73 vehicles registered with the California DMV, triple the number just four months ago.

- Can GM come up with the money to compete in this space? The company announced recently that it will cut costs in existing operations. The $5.5 billion that is expected to be saved will be put toward development of AVs.

- EASYMILE and NAVYA are two European companies have developed competing versions of fully-autonomous, low-speed electric shuttle buses. Yutong, a Chinese bus manufacturer, has also demonstrated a self-driving bus.

- Rumours about Apple's electric car abound. The company is said to be aiming for a 2019 launch. Code named Project Titan, one of the rumours about the development is that it will have at least some self-driving capability.

- CAVCOE itself is getting into the AV game. The company has teamed up with Windmill Development Group to conduct a feasibility and planning study for the “demonstration, trial and deployment of fully automated, electric mini shuttle buses at Zibi, which is a re-development of industrial lands linking Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec, Canada.” Zibi is being developed in a partnership between Windmill Developments and Dream Unlimited Corp. and aims to become the “world's most sustainable community.”

- Japanese firm Robot Taxi has announced that it will begin testing a taxi service utilizing self-driving cars in 2016. The aim is to have a fully operational commercial service in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

- A New York City architect and engineer, Carlo Ratti, is predicting that the combination of self-driving cars and big data could remove eight out of every ten cars on the streets of New York City. "You're totally blurring the distinction between public transportation and private transportation," Ratti is quoted as saying. He sees self-driving cars as the next step in making urban transportation more efficient. There could be big money in this. His prediction is that there is a “potential financial benefit to the US on the order of more than $3 trillion per year” in the coming AV sector. This is a massive amount of money, 19 percent of current GDP.

- Earlier this year the Conference Board of Canada, CAVCOE and the Van Horne Institute published a report with a similar analysis for Canada. The free report is available here.

- The City of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada has joined the list of cities that are investigating how AVs will change the city. Edmonton's study will assess the impact of AVs and develop a plan of action.

A number of major AV-related events are slated for Canada in the next few years: 

November 3 to 5, 2015: Unmanned Systems Canada 2015 Conference; Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

June 19 to 22, 2016: EVS29 Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exhibition, Montreal, Canada

October 29 to November 2, 2017: ITS World Congress, Montreal, Canada


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