The Sensor: Legal Insights into Autonomous Vehicles
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July 2020
Highlights of the connected and autonomous vehicles report by ICTC and CAVCOE
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In 2019, the Autonomous Vehicle (AV) industry experienced significant technological and regulatory advances that shifted the promise of the deployment of fully autonomous AVs. Against this backdrop of an increasingly growing industry, we expect 2020 to be a year where the discussions around AVs shift from the grandiose to the granular. We highlight below the top legal issues relating to AVs for 2020.

The first quarter of 2020 saw the release of a number of important reports by Canadian stakeholders in the connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) space. One of these recent publications entitled “Advances in Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Current State and Future Trends” (the Report) was jointly published by the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) and the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence (CAVCOE). The Report provides a helpful summary of advances in CAV technology in recent years and discusses CAVs’ broader impact on our lives, cities, society and infrastructure.
While autonomous vehicles are moving to our roadways, the agriculture industry’s development of autonomous vehicles and machinery is also advancing rapidly. Autonomous farm and agricultural machinery promises to be an efficient and cheap method for farmers, although it receives far less publicity. This machinery is proving to be part of a significantly expanding industry, with global shipments of such equipment set to rise to $87.9 billion by 2025.[1] [1] https://tractica.omdia.com/newsroom/press-releases/agricultural-robot-shipments-to-reach-727000-units-annually-by-2025/
  • Vehicles (Vehicle to Vehicle communication, “V2V”);

    • Infrastructure (Vehicle to Infrastructure communication, “V2I”);

    • Pedestrians (Vehicle to Pedestrian communication, “V2P”);

    • Networks (Vehicle to Network communication, “V2N”;

    • Devices (Vehicle to Device communication, “V2D”;

While the Report focuses primarily on passenger vehicles, it does remind the readers that CAV refers to a broader ecosystem than just self-driving cars. The scope of use cases around CAVs not only include passenger vehicles, but automated shuttles, off-road heavy equipment (for mining, agriculture, forestry and construction), vehicles used for parcel delivery, garbage pick-up, and snowplows, as well as drones. These applications generally use a common set of technologies that are developed to meet different engineering specifications. Below are highlights from the Report’s key insights to enable deployment of CAVs in Canada:  
  • Given the multidimensional societal impact of CAVs, the Report recommends more concerted and accelerated policy planning around CAVs deployment by the federal, provincial, and municipal governments. Specifically, the Report recommends that cities factor in the role of CAVs over the next 10-20 years in the planning for current transportation and transit infrastructure projects. Interestingly, at a federal level, the Report recommends setting out a clear roadmap for the deployment of CAVs, with clear temporal targets (e.g. similar to the UK roadmap with a targeted timeline of 2030).
  • The Report considers features of fifth generation cellular networks (5G) and dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) for supporting the deployment of high autonomy CAVs. The Report notes that industry stakeholders are evaluating 5G C-V2X in test environments to verify the performance of 5G C-V2X as an alternative to DSRC. Notably, earlier this year the Toronto Region Board of Trade commented on this in Getting Ready for Autonomy, a report capturing industry stakeholder consultations as to readiness of CAVs in the Toronto region. The Toronto Region Board of Trade recommended that all levels of government agree to an industry-shared directive to enable 5G networks for CAVs. Although it is not clear if governments will concur with this recommendation, it appears that in the Report’s conclusion the authors view 5G as the key to the successful implementation and adoptions of CAVs.
  • The Report identifies regulatory frameworks as another key enabler of the successful deployment of CAVs in Canada. In this regard, the Report highlights gaps in the adoption of standards for autonomous features of CAVs at a federal level and encourages all provinces to be more involved in CAV innovation and preparedness to increase development and deployment of CAVs.
Authors:
Sunny Kim


Monthly articles provided in The Sensor: Legal Insights into Autonomous Vehicles explore how autonomous vehicles are impacting industry sectors across the board and are written with the objective of helping to ensure our clients are well-positioned to deal with the related legal and regulatory challenges.

Your feedback is appreciated. Please email us at AVs@blg.com with your comments or suggestions.