Garneau looks to Senate for advice on future of driverless cars

OTTAWA - Canada's Senate, often accused of being an anachronism, is being asked to wrestle with the futuristic dream of driverless cars.

See Full Article

Transport Minister Marc Garneau wants the Senate's transportation and communications committee to launch a study of the regulatory, policy and technical issues that need to be addressed so that Canada can safely and smoothly make the transition to self-driving vehicles - a coming automotive revolution that's already being road tested in Ontario and elsewhere.

His request for a Senate study is part of the Trudeau government's attempt to recast the much-maligned upper house as an independent and valued institution that has an important parliamentary role to play.

It follows Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's creation of an arm's-length advisory board to recommend non-partisan nominees for appointment to the Senate.

Among other things, Garneau says the committee should examine the potential for Canada to set standards for the development of automated cars that can operate safely on icy winter roads.

"The technology I'm talking about is not science fiction," Garneau said during an appearance late Wednesday before the Senate committee.

"It is in development today and has the potential to improve safety, efficiency and the environmental performance of transportation in Canada and other countries."

Still, he said there are many questions that must be addressed, including the long-term impact on privacy, energy, land use, transportation demand and employment.

Garneau and Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly were invited to appear Wednesday before the committee to discuss the mandate letters given to them by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when they took charge of their portfolios. Garneau took the opportunity to ask the committee to launch a driverless car study.

"I'm one of these people who believes that the Senate is part of Parliament, that has done some very serious and very important and groundbreaking studies and I want to engage with them in the most productive possible way," Garneau said in an interview.

Self-driving vehicles have the potential to make driving safer, he said, noting that automated vehicles "don't fall asleep, they don't drink." And they're potentially more energy efficient because "there's less of a heavy foot on the gas and heavy foot on the brake kind of driving."

But there are also challenges, like ensuring vehicles have backups should their computer systems fail and figuring out how to replicate human judgment in unpredictable winter driving conditions.

Driverless vehicles will automatically keep a safe distance from other vehicles but, Garneau noted: "We in Canada have to make judgment calls in the winter time when we're on icy roads and black ice. So that's got to be part of it as well because they're not all nice California roads."

Moreover, Garneau said automated cars raise issues of liability and insurance, cyber security, to ensure that vehicles' computer systems can't be hacked, and privacy, to protect those who don't want their whereabouts constantly tracked.

"There are rules and regulations that will have to be put in place that don't exist at the moment."



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • Mexico's prickly pear cactus: energy source of the future?

    Tech & Science CTV News
    The prickly pear cactus is such a powerful symbol in Mexico that they put it smack in the middle of the national flag. It was considered sacred by the ancient Aztecs, and modern-day Mexicans eat it, drink it, and even use it in medicines and shampoos. Source
  • Eating the sun: How solar eclipses changed from terrible omen to tourist draw

    Tech & Science CBC News
    As we prepare for the moon to swallow the sun, cast your mind back 4,153 years ago, give or take. Without warning, people in central China saw their familiar sun disappear and become a ring of fire, in what today is called an annular eclipse. Source
  • Japan launches satellite for better GPS system

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Japan on Saturday launched the third satellite in its effort to build a homegrown geolocation system aimed at improving the accuracy of car navigation systems and smartphone maps to mere centimetres. An H-IIA rocket blasted off at about 2:30 pm (0530 GMT) from the Tanegashima space centre in southern Japan, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Source
  • After cracking down on neo-Nazis, tech companies wonder who should police online hate

    Tech & Science CBC News
    For more than two decades, a question with no easy answer has consumed international lawmakers, tech companies and internet users: How should we handle those who spread hate, racism and abuse online? This long-simmering debate came to a boil this week, after white supremacist website The Daily Stormer helped organize a rally in Charlottesville, Va. Source
  • Technology allows visually impaired, blind to experience solar eclipse

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Four months ago, Henry Winter was asked to describe an eclipse to a colleague who had been blind since birth and was initially stumped because he couldn't use visual terms. Winter, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, then remembered a colleague who had recounted the sound of crickets starting and stopping during an eclipse. Source
  • Man is charged with flying drones to bring drugs from Mexico

    Tech & Science CTV News
    SAN DIEGO -- A 25-year-old U.S. citizen has been charged with using a drone to smuggle more than 13 pounds (6.1 kilograms) of methamphetamine from Mexico by drone, an unusually large seizure for what is still a novel technique to bring illegal drugs into the United States, authorities said Friday. Source
  • Man charged with flying drone to bring drugs from Mexico

    Tech & Science CTV News
    SAN DIEGO -- A 25-year-old U.S. citizen has been charged with using a drone to smuggle more than 13 pounds (5.9 kilograms) of methamphetamine from Mexico, an unusually large seizure for what is still a novel technique to bring illegal drugs into the United States, authorities said Friday. Source
  • Eclipse to have big impact on California power grid

    Tech & Science CTV News
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- When the moon passes in front of the sun during Monday's eclipse California will lose enough solar energy to power more than 1.5 million homes, a figure that underscores the state's growing reliance on energy from the sun. Source
  • Asian carp found near Lake Michigan got past barriers

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Officials say an Asian carp found in a Chicago waterway this summer apparently got past an electric barrier system intended to prevent the invasive fish from reaching the Great Lakes. The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee says an autopsy shows the 4-year-old male silver carp originated in the Illinois/Middle Mississippi watershed. Source
  • Demand for eclipse glasses outpaces supply

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Ali Van Orman is still looking for specialized glasses to protect her family's eyes during Monday's solar eclipse because she never counted on demand totally eclipsing supply. She tried to buy a coveted pair of solar eclipse glasses for herself and two children from Amazon back in July, but the hot commodities wouldn't have arrived in time. Source