Automated Vehicle Report

At the April 3rd Urban Planning Committee a report was presented based on an inquiry I made in December of 2017 regarding the Minister of Transportation reorienting the Department of Transportation to prepare for the rise of automated (autonomous, self-driving) vehicles in Alberta. While the province has been preparing for a variety of Intelligent Transportation systems for many years, January of 2019 will mark the beginning of the legislative changes that are required for full implementation of automated vehicle testing throughout Alberta. Municipalities then execute the legislative and regulatory framework created by province, including AV safety enforcement, land use decisions, and operation of transit systems. In order to prepare for these transformative changes and take advantage of the opportunities it provides, we as a City need to be leaders in the deployment of AV testing.

In order to do this, partnerships and collaboration between all orders of government and stakeholders is essential to successful implementation. The Future of Automated Vehicles in Canada Report explains how important these partnerships are. In Canada, the federal government is responsible for establishing the national AV policy and regulatory framework. Transport Canada is responsible for keeping vehicle manufacturers accountable for safety  standards compliance and emissions requirements. Provincial and territorial governments are responsible for creating the legislative framework for AV testing and deployment within their own jurisdictions. They are also responsible for driver licensing, vehicle registration and insurance, rules of the road, and any changes to highway infrastructure that might be needed to support AV deployment. Key industry players include automakers, auto parts manufacturers along with local Universities, technology firms, and research institutes. As AV technology advances and is deployed onto public roads, the AV industry and all orders of government will need to work together.

The report presented (Item 7.1 attachment 1) cautions that if the City does not continue to advocate for and advance automated vehicle technology, other municipalities or other sectors will become the leaders and yield greater planning and financial benefit from the technology. In order to do this, Admin will be developing a Smart Transportation Action Plan to address and mitigate this risk. We heard from the founder and President of Magnovate, Dan Corns and John Stepovy from Pacific Western Transportation who both expressed interest in partnering with the City on AV transportation programs, as well as ACAMP and Alberta Innovates I am encouraged by the number of interested partners and am excited to see these relationships explored further. I did make sure to clarify that the process for choosing these partnerships is fair and open for all to explore. The Smart Transportation Action Plan will be presented to the Urban Planning Committee in September 2018.  

The timing of this also aligns well with Council’s review and update of the Strategic Plan for 2019-2028. In order to incorporate emerging technologies into our development plan, testing is required to provide information on how that technology operates in Edmonton. Especially when thinking about new and emerging technology like automated vehicles, it’s is important to understand and test the technology so that we are ready to incorporate it into our transportation system in the future.

The work we are doing on new and emerging technologies in transportation including automated vehicles aligns with our City goals in a number of ways:

  • Regional and Economic Resilience: Preparing early and being a leader among Canadian municipalities can attract new investment, diversify our economy and insulate us from disruptions in our economy. 
  • Urban Shift: Planning infrastructure with automated vehicles in mind creates a flexible urban environment that can more easily be changed once the technology is implemented.  
  • Energy and Climate: Many automated vehicles will be electric which will help us move towards our goal of being a low carbon city. In addition, automated vehicles will make our transportation system more efficient, reducing the amount of time vehicles spend on the road.  
  • Healthy City: Automated vehicles will mean that eventually, people will spend less time commuting or the time spent commuting will be used to do other things. This will help people lead more healthy and fulfilled lives. 

Therefore in preparation of this, I made the following two motions which passed:

 That Administration, in partnership with relevant stakeholders, provide a report on implementation of Connected and/or Automated Vehicle pilot(s) testing with a target start date of January 1, 2019 or earlier to align with new Provincial rules on AV testing. Administration to provide progress report in third quarter.

Subsequent motion:

Can administration in consultation with relevant stakeholders, develop a service package for the necessary staff and potential capital required to support Automated Vehicle testing pilot(s) within the 2019-2022 operating budgets.

The work that we are doing to test and understand automated vehicles will help us identify the societal, economic, financial, environmental, and land use planning impacts. It will help City Council make decisions about how and when these emerging technologies should be deployed in Edmonton. By planning ahead, we can make investments that will serve people today and adapt when new technology arrives. This will ensure we have positive outcomes for all Edmontonians.




Written by A. Knack and K. Machin


  1. Larry Maze on April 4, 2018 at 8:34 am

    Has there been any consulting with the public on this issue or are you going to just assume that we all want to embrace driverless car testing on Edmonton public streets?

    • Andrew Knack on April 6, 2018 at 5:03 pm

      Thanks for the comment Larry. While I’ve personally been talking about this for the last few years and campaigned on the idea of the city taking leadership in the testing of this technology, there would absolutely need to be lots of engagement. Before any testing would occur on public streets, the City would likely be required to test in locations like the Research and Technology Park or on a road closed off to public traffic. While that type of testing has been occurring in many cities for a number of years, our climate presents a different set of challenges so that would involve some proper testing before moving onto public streets.

      I should also note that I’ve never assumed that every person will embrace this technology but my thought is that it would be good for us to understand the impacts of this technology so we can prepare for it versus letting the rest of the world create the policies around it. We can understand and prepare for the impacts to the economy and land use versus having being reactive which could create major issues down the road. Thanks again for the comment. If you have any other questions or comments, please let me know.

  2. Darcy Reynard on April 4, 2018 at 11:06 am

    Please read this paper:

    I disagree with the Urban Shift and Healthy City points in your blog. There seems to be growing research that private AVs will have a negative effect on urban form. I think AV technology should be used for mass transit and the City should encourage that research.

    • Andrew Knack on April 6, 2018 at 5:06 pm

      Thanks Darcy. You are correct that if the private AV model is used, that would have a negative impact. Most companies have suggested the fleet-based model which would have a major positive impact on urban form. Part of why I think the City should be heavily involved in testing is so we can help move towards the fleet-based option. I’m concerned that if we are testing and others cities push the private AV model, we will be stuck with a system that could create significant challenges to our urban form. I completely agree that AV technology could play a major role in the future of mass transit and I would hope we absolutely encourage that approach. Thanks again for the comment.

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