Canada: Senate Committee Calls For National Autonomous Vehicles Strategy In New Report

On Monday, January 29, 2018, the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications delivered its report on the regulatory and technical issues related to the deployment of connected and automated vehicles — "Driving Change: Technology and the Future of the Automated Vehicle". The key message arising from this report is:

"Canada is ill-prepared for the fast-approaching future of transportation."

The report is a direct response to the federal Minister of Transport's request that the Committee meet with industry leaders to assist the Government of Canada in planning for the deployment of autonomous vehicles ("AVs") and connected vehicles ("CVs"). With a small sample of self-driving cars already being tested on city streets in Ontario and the federal government looking to release its own AV and CV plan, the Committee's report provides a timely series of recommendations to the federal government to help build a coordinated national strategy on automated and connected vehicles. BLG is proud to have participated in the Committee's consultation process with industry. We hope that this report will be a significant step forward for the development of federal policy and the deployment of AVs on Canadian roads.

The report is divided into two parts:

Part 1 of the report provides background information on AVs and CVs, how they can be used, when they are expected to be deployed, and their potential advantages and challenges. This section of the report highlights advantages to safety, environment, society, and economics, but also significant challenges in the form of employment displacement, privacy risks, and cybersecurity concerns.

Part 2 of the report focuses on the Committee's recommendations regarding the federal government's role in planning for the arrival of AV and CV technologies. Based on the evidence provided by automakers, lawyers, police, and industry stakeholders, the Committee provided a list of 16 recommendations. Some key recommendations include:

  • Creation of a joint policy unit to coordinate federal efforts and implement a national strategy on automated and connected vehicles;
  • Developing provincial policies that engage municipalities;
  • Strengthening the Regulatory Cooperation Council with the United States;
  • Developing federal vehicle safety guidelines for automated and connected vehicles;
  • Establishing cybersecurity guidance and a real-time crisis connect network;
  • Monitoring the impact of autonomous and connected technologies on insurance; and
  • Consideration of the labour market disruption.

The findings and recommendations of the report provide a national strategy to coordinate federal efforts and to capitalize on the rapid technological innovation presented by AVs and CVs in Canada. The report also provides significant guidance to industry leaders and automakers who are looking to provide increased levels of automation to consumers.

BLG is committed to being at the forefront of technological change and the ensuing legal implications which may impact our clients. Stay tuned for a more in-depth analysis of the Committee's recommendations and what this may mean for you.

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