The Rise of Autonomous Vehicles: Planning for Deployment Not Just Development

This year opens to a landscape of autonomous vehicle expectations that are both exciting and sobering. By now, we are accustomed to seeing automated vehicle technology improve rapidly, and announcements from innovators are losing their novelty. We also hear a growing concern that the technology may not perform as promised, or that it might make urban transportation problems worse. Will it threaten transit, increase congestion, or begin an accelerated period of complex traffic problems with mixed levels of automation? Will we need unaffordable infrastructure that we cannot build quickly enough?

There is no turning back. Technology companies and automotive manufacturers have invested more than $80 billion in the underlying technologies and acquisitions. Promotional campaigns have started. They know change will be lucrative and they are betting heavily. Governments are beginning to recognize that there are economic gains or losses for its jurisdictions depending on how choices are made to engage with these technologies.

The province of Ontario is no different. Ontario was the first Canadian jurisdiction to make a clearly elucidated promise and a significant research investment in what it calls the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN).

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