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Self-driving cars

The future of mobility

Autonomous vehicles are going to dramatically change the world - so when does the revolution begin?

Mercedez-Benz reveals their F015 autonomous electric car to the media at The North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, on January 12, 2015. The annual car show takes place amid a surging economy, more jobs and cheap gas, a trifecta of near-perfect conditions for the US auto industry.

Mercedez-Benz reveals its F015 autonomous electric car to the media at The North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, on January 12, 2015.

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

It's a cool, cloudy day high in the California desert, and an engineer hits "pickup" on a watch-like device. An empty car pulls out of a parking space and stops beside me. The engineer and I hop in for a spin around Kia's test facility. The car stops for a jaywalker, at all stop signs and, when on the highway, goes around a slower car – all without the engineer touching the wheel or pedals.

To ride in this car is akin to hopping in a time machine and arriving in a driving scene straight out of Minority Report or I, Robot. It's that impressive.

The self-driving car will likely change society more than any technology has over the past century. Roads will be safer, we'll have more free time, cities will be reshaped and traffic may become a thing of the past.

Ford CEO Mark Fields says this technology will have as big of an impact on the auto industry as the assembly line once did. One estimate suggests autonomous vehicles will be a $42-billion (U.S.) market by 2025.

An autonomous vehicle uses cameras, radar, sensors and a GPS unit to sense its environment, the road and other objects so it can drive without human input.

Engineers must expose the car to millions of situations for the computer to understand what to do, essentially it is like showing a computer millions of flash cards.

Inside Kia’s partially autonomous car

Inside Kia’s partially autonomous car

Jordan Chittley/The Globe and Mail

However, despite all the advances, it will be decades before anyone walks into a dealership and has a car drive him or her home.

Almost every major auto maker and a number of tech companies are spending billions of dollars to develop self-driving cars. While many have shown how well the technology can work in ideal conditions, there is still years of work to figure out how to equip a car with the ability to drive itself through a snow storm, or at any time when lane markers are impossible to see.

Fully autonomous cars (the kind without steering wheels) that can take you anywhere in any weather are not a reality of the near future.

So we set out in search of answers. Who is building these cars? How does the technology work? How will cities change? How will lives change?

Most importantly, when will we be able to buy these cars?

The journey begins more than a century ago, before the first car puttered down a dirt road. After all, the car is not the first mode of transportation to transition from human operation to computer-controlled.

In this seven-part multimedia series on autonomous vehicles, we examine the past, the current technology and what the future may hold.


A history of computers taking control

Long before self-driving cars, the elevator and airplane went through similar technological shifts - from being completely manually operated to now having computers do most of the work

Elevator operator Anna Carroca begins to open the door to a 108-year-old manually controlled elevator at 10 Adelaide Street East in Toronto.

Elevator operator Anna Carroca begins to open the door to a 108-year-old manually controlled elevator at 10 Adelaide Street East in Toronto.

Jordan Chittley/The Globe and Mail

Anna Carroca casually strolls into action as a loud, piercing bell rings throughout the beige marble halls of a four-storey office town in downtown Toronto.

She walks into a green, cream-and-gold elevator cab, looks up at the panel for the requested floor, closes the cage door, grasps a black lever and pushes it to the left, and the elevator shoots toward the sky.

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"Left is going up and right is going down," Carroca says, as we soar up the elevator shaft. "It has a brake, and you have full power to stop as if you were driving a car."

After 14 years at the elevator controls, Carroca makes it look easy. She jokes with tenants and rarely misses floors. If the operator doesn't stop in the right spot, he or she may have to readjust or force a passenger to step up or down into the cab. She won't let me operate it because there is a risk of damaging the elevator.

Self-driving Cars Take a drive in a 108-year-old manually controlled elevator

2:02

Most elevators were manually operated before the Second World War. Today, this one, built in 1908 at the Ontario Heritage Centre at 10 Adelaide St. E., is one of a few remaining in Toronto. Others are at the Goodenham (Flatiron) building, the Masonic Temple and the Gladstone Hotel.

"It's a very rare and vanishing type," says Romas Bubelis, architect with the Ontario Heritage Trust. "The visceral feeling you have as the air rushes by as you move up through the elevator shaft and being dependent on the elevator operator's hand … is anything but a dead automatic experience."

The historic Birkbeck building at 10 Adelaide Street East in Toronto in the 1930s

The historic Birkbeck building at 10 Adelaide Street East in Toronto in the 1930s

Ontario Heritage Trust

In the middle of the 19th century, Elisha Otis invented a game-changing safety mechanism that prevented an elevator from falling even if its cable broke, says Rob Isabelle, CEO of KJA, an elevator-consulting firm. By the turn of the 20th century, electric, manually operated elevators were commonplace in New York and were being installed in Toronto buildings.

"Most buildings into the 1950s had people waiting there to take you," says Lee Gray, professor of architectural history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and author of a book about the history of elevators. "Until we get to the 1950s there is a recognition the elevator needs a driver … You couldn't get by without an operator because you or I couldn't drive the car. I tried to do it once and missed by six inches."

In the early 1950s, push-button elevators were introduced en masse. Building owners could save money on operators and automated elevators increased efficiency and capacity. But there was a problem – people hated them.

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"We have clear stories of people walking into elevators and walking right back out," Gray says. "Passengers were saying, 'I don't want to drive this thing, where is the operator?'"

Many people didn't feel comfortable giving up control to a machine, where all they had to do was push a button.

The call bell on a manually controlled elevator built in 1908 at 10 Adelaide Street East in Toronto.

The call bell on a manually controlled elevator built in 1908 at 10 Adelaide Street East in Toronto.

Jordan Chittley/The Globe and Mail

It took most of that decade for people to become comfortable pushing the button on their own – and the elevator is a vehicle that only goes up and down attached to wires in a shaft.

"Like any new technology, people got used to it very quickly and now we don't even think about it," Bubelis says.

A history of the computer taking control

1912

First aircraft autopilot

developed

by Sperry Corporation

Around 1900

Completely automated

push-button elevators

available in small

apartments

1925

Houdina Radio

Control demonstrates

a radio-controlled car

operated by a

following car

1947

U.S. Air Force C-54

makes a transatlantic

flight, including takeoff

and landing completely

under the control of

autopilot

1950s

Automatic push-

button elevators

introduced en masse

1950s

GM and RCA test

vehicles on automated

highways using radio

controls

1998

Mercedes-Benz, Toyota

and Mitsubishi begin

offering adaptive

cruise control

2012

Google car passes

Nevada driving test

on 22 km route in

Las Vegas

2013

Mercedes-Benz

S-Class goes 100 km

on highways and

streets in Germany

2015

Audi A7s drive from San

Francisco to Las Vegas

2016

Uber and

nuTonomy begin

testing self-driving

taxis in Pittsburgh

and Singapore

2016

An Otto autonomous

transport truck drives

about 200 km to

make a beer delivery

in Colorado

A history of the computer taking control

1912

First aircraft

autopilot

developed

by Sperry

Corporation

1947

U.S. Air Force C-54

makes a transatlantic

flight, including

takeoff and landing

completely under the

control of autopilot

1950s

GM and RCA

test vehicles on

automated

highways using

radio controls

2012

Google car

passes Nevada

driving test on

22 km route in

Las Vegas

2015

Audi A7s

drive from

San Francisco

to Las Vegas

2016

Uber and

nuTonomy begin

testing self-driving

taxis in Pittsburgh

and Singapore

Around 1900

Completely

automated

push-button

elevators

available in small

apartments

1925

Houdina Radio

Control

demonstrates a

radio-controlled

car operated by

a following car

1950s

Automatic

push-button

elevators

introduced

en masse

1998

Mercedes-Benz,

Toyota and

Mitsubishi

begin offering

adaptive cruise

control

2013

Mercedes-Benz

S-Class goes 100

km on highways

and streets in

Germany

2016

An Otto

autonomous

transport truck

drives about 200

km to make a

beer delivery in

Colorado

A history of the computer taking control

Around 1900

Completely automated push-button

elevators available in small

apartments

1912

First aircraft autopilot developed

by Sperry Corporation

1925

Houdina Radio Control

demonstrates a radio-controlled

car operated by a following car

1947

U.S. Air Force C-54 makes a

transatlantic flight, including takeoff

and landing completely under the

control of autopilot

1950s

Automatic push-button

elevators introduced en masse

1950s

GM and RCA test vehicles

on automated highways

using radio controls

1998

Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and

Mitsubishi begin offering

adaptive cruise control

2012

Google car passes Nevada driving

test on 22 km route in Las Vegas

2013

Mercedes-Benz S-Class goes

100 km on highways and

streets in Germany

2015

Audi A7s drive from San

Francisco to Las Vegas

2016

Uber and nuTonomy begin

testing self-driving taxis in

Pittsburgh and Singapore

2016

An Otto autonomous transport

truck drives about 200 km to make

a beer delivery in Colorado

A history of the computer taking control

1912

First aircraft

autopilot

developed

by Sperry

Corporation

1947

U.S. Air Force C-54 makes

a transatlantic flight,

including takeoff and

landing completely under

the control of autopilot

1950s

GM and RCA

test vehicles on

automated

highways using

radio controls

2012

Google car

passes Nevada

driving test on

22 km route in

Las Vegas

2015

Audi A7s

drive from

San Francisco

to Las Vegas

2016

Uber and

nuTonomy begin

testing self-driving

taxis in Pittsburgh

and Singapore

Around 1900

Completely

automated

push-button

elevators available

in small apartments

1925

Houdina Radio

Control demonstrates

a radio-controlled car

operated by a

following car

1950s

Automatic

push-button

elevators

introduced

en masse

1998

Mercedes-Benz,

Toyota and

Mitsubishi begin

offering adaptive

cruise control

2013

Mercedes-Benz

S-Class goes 100

km on highways

and streets in

Germany

2016

An Otto autonomous

transport truck drives

about 200 km to

make a beer delivery

in Colorado

THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Autopilot

Captain Rob Johnson settles into his seat for a short flight from Toronto to Montreal. We aren't actually on a plane, but in a flight simulator in Mississauga, for Johnson to demonstrate how the autopilot system works.

He's looking at small, out-of-date screens, pushing buttons and turning small knobs. There are hundreds of them.

Story continues below advertisement

Capt. Rob Johnson sits in the pilot’s seat in a simulator at uFly in Mississauga, Ont.

Capt. Rob Johnson sits in the pilot’s seat in a simulator at uFly in Mississauga, Ont.

Jordan Chittley/The Globe and Mail

"Once you lift off and fly the aircraft off the runway, gear is coming up, engage the automation, you can leave it [autopilot] in all the way until you disconnect for the final approach," says Johnson, who has been piloting aircraft for 45 years – including fighter jets and on 15-hour flights on Boeing 777s. "Some [pilots] leave it in until 300 or 400 feet above the runway."

About a minute after the rubber leaves the tarmac, Johnson hits one button, double checks some settings and then calmly removes his hands from the yoke. Blink, and you'd miss the computer taking control.

Self-driving Cars How autopilot works and how it revolutionized flying

2:19

Johnson says pilots use autopilot 99 per cent of the time, and it can be used at many airports to land. But the system is only as good as the information input by the pilot. Autopilot allows pilots to focus on other issues such as navigating around approaching weather.

Prior to autopilot, flying was a grueling, dangerous experience. It was cold, windy and insanely loud – plus oil flew everywhere and the pilot had to constantly pull the plane to the left to compensate for the rotary engine. Constant attention was required to keep the plane on a straight course.

"The sheer physical fatigue that came from flying could quickly wear a man down, something not easy to understand for those of us who fly cosseted in the passenger cabin of a jet liner," Lee Kennett wrote in his 1991 book, The First Air War.

In 1912, Sperry Corp. developed the first autopilot system. It connected a gyroscopic heading indicator and attitude indicator to hydraulically operate elevators and rudders (the devices that move the plane up, down and side to side). It allowed the plane to fly straight and level on a compass course with little attention from the pilot. Inventor Lawrence Sperry showed it off in 1914 by flying past onlookers in Paris with his hands up in the air and off the controls.

"Over Ohio the other day, a big tri-motored Ford plowed through the air on its way to Washington, D.C. Four men leaned back at ease in the passenger cabin. Yet the pilot's compartment was empty. A metal airman, scarcely larger than an automobile battery, was holding the stick," begins a February 1930 article in Popular Science Monthly. "The sensitiveness of the robot in responding to movements of the plane is said to be superior to that of the average human pilot."

Aviation historian Keith Hyde says pilots were initially skeptical of autopilot and wary of turning over control, but technology improved over decades.

"Today, a pilot, even though he has to go through the courses … doesn't have much to do [while flying]," Hyde says.

The cockpit of a Boeing 777 flight simulator at uFly in Mississagua, Ont.

The cockpit of a Boeing 777 flight simulator at uFly in Mississagua, Ont.

uFly

As we approach the landing strip in Montreal, a pleasant voice announces how many feet we are above the ground. Johnson monitors the screens and keeps his hands close to the controls, but doesn't touch them. The plane lands smoothly, but a little to the left, so Johnson disengages the system and drives it back to centre.

So why do we still need pilots?

To make the decisions, Johnson says.

"You program bad information and it will give you bad results," he says. "The pilot in command is ultimately responsible for the safety of the aircraft … Somebody has to mind the store."

104 years after the first autopilot, the system can do a lot, but it can't take responsibility.

(Return to the table of contents)


Helping hands

The first steps toward driverless cars are already in cars you can buy

Self-driving Cars We test Tesla’s Autopilot to separate facts from myths

2:22

Cars are more clever than they've ever been. They're more aware of other vehicles, and some even talk to each other for updates on traffic and parking.

Some can drive themselves for short stretches. In reality, they can drive themselves for long stretches, staying within a lane and maintaining the speed of traffic, but auto makers usually limit the driverless time to limit their liability.

These cars are also much more complicated, and their driver's manuals are thicker. Most BMW dealerships employ "product geniuses," separate from sales staff, to explain the features.

"The product genius is really an adjunct to the sales-consultant team," says Rob Dexter, BMW Canada's product and technology specialist.

"They're not there to sell the car – they're there to demonstrate the car."

Toyota is also teaching drivers about the new safety features through special training sessions for sales staff.

"We're introducing a comprehensive awareness and education campaign to help Canadian drivers understand these systems and experience them first-hand," says Cyril Dimitris, vice-president of Toyota Canada.

Different auto makers have different proprietary names for their software, but these are the main ones. They mostly use combinations of radar, sonar and camera image recognition to see other cars and objects. Here's how they work:

Self-driving Cars The stepping stones toward a self-driving future, features already in cars

3:00

Blind-spot warning

When a passing vehicle enters your blind spot, a will sense it and trigger a warning light on the corresponding side mirror.

When a passing vehicle enters your blind spot, a will sense it and trigger a warning light on the corresponding side mirror.

Ford

The blind-spot in a driver's vision is countered by either low-range radar or sonar transmitters aimed specifically at this hidden area. When they detect an obstacle that would be in the way if you want to change lanes, a warning light will show in the mirror. If you put on the indicator to change lanes, a warning chime will sound.

Active cruise control

The dash of a Ford Fusion shows the adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist features are active.

The dash of a Ford Fusion shows the adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist features are active.

Sean Liliani/for The Globe and Mail

This feature allows the car to drive either at a set speed or the speed of the car in front without touching the accelerator or brake pedal. When you set the cruise control for a specific speed, the car will shoot a radar or sonar beam ahead to detect the distance to any vehicle in front. Some, like Subaru, use just camera-image detection, while others use a combination of the two. You can adjust this distance with a switch on the steering wheel. Once your car gets close enough to the vehicle in front, it will automatically slow down to that vehicle's speed. Infinitis were the first cars to actually stop in traffic and then resume cruising speed, but most premium vehicles now offer this.

Front collision warning/assistance

The same radar or sonar and cameras that detect objects in front for active cruise control detects an obstacle ahead you must brake to avoid: a car slowing suddenly, or a pedestrian crossing the road, or an animal. If the car thinks you should brake, large red lights will flash and the brakes will be prepped for application – if you press the pedal, it will press it even harder. If you do nothing, the car will apply the brakes itself to avoid or mitigate a crash. Some cars, including Volvos and Mercedes-Benz, can detect if the obstacle has two legs or four, and will brake harder for the two-legged one. Ford is introducing a dedicated form of pedestrian detection in its 2017 Fusion to counter the growing problem of people texting on phones while walking. "We were startled to see how oblivious people could be of a 4,000-pound car coming toward them," says Aaron Mills, a Ford safety engineer.

Lane-departure warning

Lane Keeping Assist: A system that steps in and helps steer the car back on course ifthe driver drifts out of the lane. The system does not take over the steering system. Instead the steering wheel input is usually sufficient to help the driver recognize their action is needed to keep the vehicle within the current lane.

Lane Keeping Assist: A system that steps in and helps steer the car back on course ifthe driver drifts out of the lane. The system does not take over the steering system. Instead the steering wheel input is usually sufficient to help the driver recognize their action is needed to keep the vehicle within the current lane.

Ford

Cameras in the front of your car, usually behind the side mirrors or rear-view mirror, detect lane markings. If your car starts to change lanes, a warning light and chime will prompt you to steer back into the lane. It's just a warning though. This is now a common feature on the high-end versions of most affordable cars. Volkswagens and Infinitis, among others, vibrate the steering wheel and Cadillacs vibrate the driver's seat on the side that's crossing the line. In theory, this happens because you're drowsy; in practice, it's more likely because you're texting.

Lane-departure assistance

One step further than just warning the driver, "assistance" actually steers the car back into the lane by either gently applying the brakes on your car's opposite side – the most common method – or directly turning the wheel. This doesn't happen if the indicators are on because you intend to turn out of the lane, and it won't work for more than 30 seconds before you're instructed to hold the wheel. Five years ago, only high-end versions of premium cars such as Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW offered this, but now even the Honda Civic offers the feature.

Rear cross-traffic alert

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Cross Traffic Alert warns the driver of impending traffic while backing out of a parking spot.

Cross Traffic Alert warns the driver of impending traffic while backing out of a parking spot.

Ford

Handy in shopping-mall parking lots, your car sends a sonar or radar beam out from behind the vehicle and pointed to the left and right. If you parked forward into the parking space, your car will warn you with lights and a chime if it detects something coming as you back up. Some cars, like the Infiniti QX60, will hit the brakes to stop you. This has become a popular feature – most vehicles that offer blind-spot warning now extend their sensors to intercept sideways traffic.

Parking assistance

The display of a Ford Fusion shows when a parking spot has been found and the car is ready to park itself.

This has become so effective that driving examiners in Germany allow its use during driver exams. Most cars have guidelines on their rear-view camera screens to show where the car will go as you turn the wheel. Active assistance will use radar and sonar to detect where other vehicles are and will steer the car into a parallel parking space. Really clever cars will back themselves automatically into a perpendicular space, such as in a shopping-mall parking lot. Many Ford models come with a parallel park assistant where all the driver has to do is press the gas or brake. And really, really clever cars, such as the BMW 7 Series, will let you get out and then park your car from the sidewalk with just the press of a button on the key fob.

More advanced technology is developed and coming soon to standard cars. For example, Tesla and the Mercedes E-Class can already change lanes without driver input.

Traffic-jam autopilot will let drivers go hands-free in stop-and-go situations. With autonomous valet parking, the car will drop off passengers at a restaurant, seek out a parking spot and return by itself when summoned via smartphone. And Mercedes, Toyota/Lexus and Audi have demonstrated highway autopilot, going back four years.

While these features can do a lot to improve safety, many auto makers and other groups warn they are only assistants.

Drivers must still pay attention and not be lulled into a false sense of security.

(Return to the table of contents)


Why is my robo-car taking so long?

Cars that can move without a human in the driver's seat have been in development for almost a century, but we are still far from trusting them with our lives in any circumstance

Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion in Shanghai, Mai 2015 Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion at Shanghai, May 2015

Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion in Shanghai, Mai 2015 Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion at Shanghai, May 2015

Daimler AG - Global Communications Mercedes-Benz Cars

Futurama, the biggest hit at the 1939 World's Fair, envisioned a future of forests, farms and cities connected by mega-highways that would be populated with radio-controlled cars.

Futurama exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City.

Futurama exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City.

Wikipedia Commons

Safety and speed: yours by 1960, promised the exhibit. Its designer, Norman Bel Geddes, would be the first but not the last to make predictions about when self-driving cars might take over daily commutes and reshape cities.

Mark Fields, CEO of Ford, said his company would have fully autonomous cars on the road by 2021. BMW's boss announced the same deadline. A GM executive said it would be 2020 or earlier. Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said 2025. Tesla's Elon Musk said fully autonomous cars would be possible by 2018, but governmental regulations would hold back its roll out. And now Musk says all 2017 Teslas will have "full self-driving hardware." Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan, said 2020. Sergey Brin said Google would have autonomous cars available to the public by 2018, but that was in 2012.

"They are going to be retracting that," Krzysztof Czarnecki said of the CEOs' grand predictions. He is the principal investigator at WatCAR – the Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research – at the University of Waterloo. "They are going to say, 'What we have is what we promised.' But I believe what people think they are promising today is probably much more than what will be delivered."

When Tesla announced in October its cars "have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability," the company actually meant its cars will be able to accomplish the feat in certain situations: sunny warm days, certain roads, etc.

Autonomy is not binary. "Full autonomy" is more marketing buzz than anything else.

Self-driving Cars The most extreme ways car companies are testing self-driving technology

2:01

When will AVs be ready?

You won't be able to walk into a Ford dealership in 2021 and buy a car that drives you home. Fields said those first autonomous vehicles will be for ride-sharing fleets only – likely because they'd be extremely expensive. And when Musk says a self-driving car is possible by 2018, he defines it as a car that's safer than a human driver – which is by no means safe. And none of the executives are talking about cars that can drive through a Canadian winter, where road markings are obscured and the surface is slippery.

The disconnect lies in the definition of autonomy. Despite the faithful and breathless coverage of these announcements, what autonomous vehicles (AVs) actually are often goes unexplained and unexamined.

"A lot of people use the name 'autonomous car' for completely different things," said Eberhard Zeeb, a senior manager who works on driver-assistance systems at Mercedes-Benz. "Maybe through the press it was launched that Google or Apple or Elon Musk could build up autonomous cars very easily – I think that's probably not true."

Today, vehicles with Level 2 autonomy are as good as it gets.

These cars with Level 2 autonomy – from Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, Ford, Hyundai, GM and others – can accelerate, brake and steer themselves on highways in good weather, but the driver must constantly monitor the situation, taking over at any time, without warning, when the car makes a mistake, which does happen.

Levels of autonomy

When it comes to cars there are five levels of automation as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

  • Level 0 – No automation: The driver does all the work.
  • Level 1 – Driver assistance: A computer lends a hand occasionally such as with cruise control.
  • Level 2 – Partial automation: The car can help you drive. It can steer, accelerate and decelerate without the driver touching the steering wheel or pedals. Tesla’s ‘autopilot’ system is the best-known example of this. The driver can’t take his hands off the wheel and if there is a problem, the driver must immediately take over.
  • Level 3 – Conditional automation: The car is responsible for driving, monitoring the environment and making decisions. No company has a Level 3 on the market yet, but many say one will be available within five years. A human must be ready to take over if the sensors fail.
  • Level 4 – High automation: The car can drive in all situations by itself, as long as it stays in a safe, well-mapped area. This is the first level where the driver can take a nap.
  • Level 5 – Full automation: The car can go anywhere, any time, in any weather. No steering wheel, no pedals. There is no need for the driver to pay attention because he or she can’t take over control anyway.

What auto-industry CEOs are promising with their bold announcements is anything from Level 3 "eyes-off" to Level 4 "mind-off" autonomy by early in the next decade, and they haven't said how much such luxury might cost.

"We're working hard to have the first Level 3 systems on the road," Zeeb said. "Maybe in the next-generation [Mercedes] E-Class. Maybe a little earlier." He said the end of the decade is a reasonable time to expect Level 3 cars.

But even this "eyes-off" automation isn't quite the robo-car of the collective imagination. These vehicles would be limited to driving in certain places in certain weather conditions, and the driver would still have to be ready to take over on short notice.

What about Level 5, complete autonomy? "Normally we say it's not before 2030," Zeeb said. "But if you really want to go anywhere in any weather conditions, I would say it would be at least 2050 or so for full autonomy."

What's taking so long?

For one thing, autonomous vehicles are illegal in most North American jurisdictions. Cars in which the driver relinquishes control are only allowed with special testing permits and they require a human in the driver's seat should something go wrong.

Uber self-driving Ford Fusion in Pittsburgh

Uber self-driving Ford Fusion in Pittsburgh

Uber

Uber's self-driving taxis in Pittsburgh have an engineer behind the wheel as a back-up and a co-pilot in the passenger seats taking notes. Google's self-driving Lexus SUVs are limited to 25 or 35 mph and have a driver behind the wheel. As of late 2015, Google's AVs detected autonomous system failures once every 8,600 kilometres on average. In each case, the car alerted the human driver to take immediate control.

But the biggest hurdle is the technology. An AV must first see the world around it, then distinguish and recognize individual objects, predict where they might go, and how it should navigate them.

Driving in the chaos of a city – where a child could dart from between parked cars – in snow, fog or rain, and on bad roads with little or no markings is a complex task and presents a huge challenge for a machine. Researchers in Canada are working on AVs that will work not just in sunny Silicon Valley, but in snowy, colder climates as well.

The Waterloo Centre for Autonomous Research self-driving car sits idle on a test road near the University of Waterloo campus in September, 2016.

The Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research self-driving car sits idle on a test road near the University of Waterloo campus in September, 2016.

Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research

"The projects we're trying to push forward that differentiate us from the rest of the self-driving community are those focused on what we have in Canada that is different: surprisingly degraded road surfaces and lane markings," said Steve Waslander, associate professor and director of the University of Waterloo Autonomous Vehicle (WAVE) laboratory.

Researchers at Waterloo are working on several autonomous-related projects including: lane and marking detection, getting AVs to recognize and understand even half-erased markings; creating secure, hacker-resistant systems; improved methods of machine learning to make it more reliable; and teaching AVs to recognize and estimate when the road surface might change – useful for safely navigating a patch of black ice, for example.

When we arrived at the University of Waterloo, they'd just taken delivery of a Lincoln rigged with sensors and cameras to use as an autonomous test vehicle.

Self-driving Cars Canadian universities developing self-driving cars for bad weather

3:00

At McMaster University, Saeid Habibi and his students are developing a system that can track and predict the movement of other vehicles, even if they are momentarily obscured, crossing in front of a truck, for example.

What is LIDAR?

LIDAR (light imaging, detection and ranging) will be a key component of self-driving cars, according to just about every major company, with the notable exception of Tesla, whose suite of "full self-driving hardware" doesn't include it.

LIDAR can "see" even in bad weather. It looks like a spinning siren, usually mounted on the roof. It works like radar, but instead of emitting radio waves it sends out laser beams which bounce back to create a 3-D image of a car's surroundings. It creates a real-time map of the car's surroundings up to 100 metres away and accurate to a couple centimetres.

The display screen inside a McMaster University test vehicle showing the image from a Lidar and a camera.

The display screen inside a McMaster University test vehicle showing the image from a Lidar and a camera.

Jordan Chittley/The Globe and Mail

Habibi says a LIDAR costs $35,000 and some research cars use four or six of them. That means adding hundreds of thousands of dollars to the price of a car. But there are companies working to bring the price down into the hundreds of dollars. Once that happens, LIDAR will still need to be augmented by radar sensors, cameras and detailed road maps. Still, the cost and size of LIDAR technology has to come down a long way before it's ready for your average compact autonomous car.

There are other issues to solve before AVs will be ready to tackle inclement weather – such as creating ultra-accurate road maps that update in real-time and figuring out how to communicate with and acknowledge human drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

Getting to 100

"We are at the point now where, yes, we can demonstrate that radar can detect most cars, LIDAR can detect most cars, most pedestrians, signs, road markings," Waslander said. "But we don't want 'most of the time.' We want all the time. … We want to get to the point where we can trust these vehicles with our lives on a daily basis."

Habibi recalled seeing an autonomous vehicle demonstrated in 2006. When he asked why it wasn't on the market, he was told: "The sensors were more expensive than the car itself, but they could only detect pedestrians with 97-per-cent accuracy." For every 100 pedestrians in its way, it might hit three.

But what if autonomous vehicles are never 100-per-cent safe? At what point do we allow them onto roads, knowing they could injure or kill someone? When it's safer than a human driver?

The trunk on the Waterloo Centre for Autonomous Research self-driving car

The trunk on the Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research self-driving car

Jordan Chittley/The Globe and Mail

"I wouldn't see it as how much technology we need to add," said Sebastian Fischmeister, associate professor at WatCAR. "I see it more as the behaviour of drivers, drivers accepting the risk that comes with these vehicles. Because covering 100 per cent of all cases is virtually impossible," it could take a generation of drivers growing up with autonomous cars to truly accept the risks.

So when will the autonomous car of your dreams be ready? It's complicated.

But while you wait, consume the hype with a healthy dose of skepticism.

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Reinventing the wheel

What shareable, electric, autonomous vehicles will look like in the future - It will be all about the experience

A rendering of the interior for a Mercedes-Benz Vision Tokyo

A rendering of the interior for a Mercedes-Benz Vision Tokyo

Daimler

Cars are perfect for carting humans around. Their design and operation has been refined over more than 100 years by dozens of companies building basically the same four-wheeled machines, all hell-bent on outdoing one another. No other complex consumer product is so refined.

Take, for example, the steering wheel. It's a brilliant invention, a wonderfully intuitive way for humans to control the complex series of hydraulic, electric and mechanical linkages that move the front wheels and turn a car.

The volume knob too, its location was agreed-upon by a kind of slow, evolutionary process Darwin would have recognized. You know where it is, and can use it without taking your eyes off the road. The turn signals too, they're right there, just an outstretched finger away.

The car, however, is about to undergo an overhaul. Everything is on the table.

There are three simultaneous new technologies reshaping the automobile: self-driving, electric powertrains and car-sharing services. Combined, it's nothing less than a revolution.

"There has been a long, slow evolution and perfection of the craft of car design over the years," says Laura Robin, director of BMW's Designworks Los Angeles Studio. "What we're looking at now is a 90-degree reframe."

Karim Habib, BMW’s head of design, stands next to the Vision Next 100.

Karim Habib, BMW’s head of design, stands next to the Vision Next 100.

BMW

Car designers aren't quite starting from a blank-sheet – there are still four wheels – but everything else is up for reinvention. At the moment, everyone from tech-giants to startups to major auto makers are throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks.

Google wants to get rid of the steering wheel. Its first prototype self-driving vehicle eliminated all human controls, including pedals.

The interior of the Google car as seen in a screen capture from a Google video

The interior of the Google car as seen in a screen capture from a Google video

Google

"It was clearly not done by an automotive designer," says Paul Snyder, chair of the Transportation Design department, College of Creative Studies, Detroit. "It looked like somebody took an Apple magic mouse and put wheels on it. It would make a really good tape dispenser or something like that."

Most established auto makers are leaning toward keeping the steering wheel and pedals, at least in some form for now so humans can drive in difficult situations.

The inteior of the Mercedes-Benz F 015

The inteior of the Mercedes-Benz F 015

Petrina Gentile/for The Globe and Mail

On its F 015 concept, Mercedes-Benz imagined a retractable steering wheel and swivelling seats. There are screens everywhere, even around the lower half of the doors. Another Mercedes concept, the Vision Van, has roof-launched drones and a joystick instead of a steering wheel.

A rendering of the interior for a Mercedes-Benz Vision Tokyo

A rendering of the interior for a Mercedes-Benz Vision Tokyo

Daimler

BMW's Vision Next 100 concept has retractable controls that disappear into the dash so you can kick back and let the car handle the traffic.

The BMW Vision Next 100 displayed at an event in Germany.

The BMW Vision Next 100 displayed at an event in Germany.

Tom Maloney/The Globe and Mail

Where the interiors are radical, the exteriors are plain in terms of the overall silhouette.

"We've had a history of being exquisite sculptors, and now we're asking designers to start with a wider lens, to start with a notion of interaction experiences," Robin says. In the past, when designing a new car, they'd start with geometry: What are the proportions, what kind of car is it? That would define the exterior and the interior would follow.

"Within certain segments, vehicles do look a lot alike," Snyder says. "Everybody is working to the same very rigid crash-protection and pedestrian-safety requirements."

Robin imagines cars being designed not just from the inside out, but from the experience out. "The questions are really inverted," she says. What will you want to do inside the car? How will you interact with the car if you're not driving it? What is the experience of ordering this sharable-car to your door like? How seamlessly does it know your preferences?

Mercedes-Benz's concept car Vision Tokyo is unveiled at the media preview for the Tokyo Motor Show in Tokyo Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015.

Mercedes-Benz’s concept car Vision Tokyo is unveiled at the media preview for the Tokyo Motor Show in Tokyo Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015.

Shuji Kajiyama/AP

Snyder says there are more radical designs to come. "Beyond the Google car, most of the concepts have been very automotive. I don't think the architecture has been exploited."

For example? "If you look at an electric drivetrain, you have the flexibility to move the cabin both back and forward," he says. Gasoline motors are bulkier than their electric counterparts. "Imagine someone facing rearward in the front seats. Now what will that do to a silhouette? You're going to have a box or bus-like silhouette. Might be very good for interior spaciousness. A lot of people might be better served in a kind of living room or office on wheels."

The Mini Vision Next 100 electric concept automobile, produced by Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW), sits on display during its unveiling in London, U.K., on Thursday, June 16, 2016. This year, the namesake marque will probably lose its sales leadership in luxury cars to Mercedes-Benz for the first time since 2005.

The Mini Vision Next 100 electric concept automobile, produced by Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW), sits on display during its unveiling in London, U.K., on Thursday, June 16, 2016. This year, the namesake marque will probably lose its sales leadership in luxury cars to Mercedes-Benz for the first time since 2005.

Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

That bus-like shape is something designers usually work hard to avoid. In China, with a group of design students, Snyder put the problem to them: "There must be ways of making that exciting and attractive."

The students drew from contemporary culture way outside the automotive realm. "If you draw on your influence from action-hero helmets or storm trooper helmets, EVA space-shuttles, you can do some really cool-looking things," he said. "There's an enormous amount to be explored with OLED (organic light-emitting diode) graphics, both projected inward on glass surfaces and outward."

He's a big fan of the Audi concept car from the movie I, Robot, the one Will Smith used to evade an army of killer robots. "It was beyond awesome. Up there with the Lamborghini Countach in my mind."

But what of sports cars such as the beautifully designed Lambroghini Countach, cars for people who still want to drive? Do they have a future? Both Robin and Snyder say yes.

"People are going to want to engage with cars emotionally still and not only see them as these tools to get you from A to B," Robin says. "There's still going to be this need to have the wind whistling through your hair as you get out on the weekend."

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It's all about time

How self-driving cars will change our lives

Once the masses adopt a fully-connected self-driving car, the impact on how we live and work may be as transforming as the evolution from horse-and-buggy to motorized vehicle.

Consider the benefits: the elderly, visually-impaired and physically challenged being fully mobile; professionals such as lawyers enhancing productivity by working during the chokehold commute; a doctor assessing x-rays on the dashboard's touchscreen and delivering pre-operation instructions en route to the hospital; parents sending their children to-and-from school or a dog to the vet; all enabled by vehicles able to drive themselves.

Most profoundly, autonomous technology may save thousands of lives by making decisions on the road faster than humans are able.

"Cars can no longer be seen as a simple means of mobility, but rather for generating new values – first for energy management, second as a connected vehicle, and third for self-driving," Fumihiko Ike, chairman of Honda and the Japanese Automobile Manufacturing Association, said during a forum at the Tokyo Motor Show last year. "Self-driving technology has a huge potential to bring about zero accidents and reduce congestion."

With the median age of its population trending upward, Japan is aggressively urging auto makers to develop autonomous vehicles in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Similarly, aging baby boomers in North America will become increasingly mobility-challenged, especially in rural locations.

"One of TRI's explicit goals is to improve access to transportation in society," says professor Edwin Olson, of Toyota's $1-billion (U.S.) research institute, adding it will be accomplished "with systems that can be operated by people who are unable to operate a conventional vehicle. We are passionate about improving quality of life by improving everyone's mobility."

The various driver-assist measures would reduce accidents significantly – in theory. Currently, about 2,000 Canadians and 30,000 Americans die in car crashes each year. Distracted driving is the documented cause of 10 per cent of fatal accidents, though the actual number is possibly higher, Bloomberg reported.

Manufacturers would give the driver three options – full control, partial control with presently incorporated technology such as adaptive cruise control, or turning the car over completely to the computer and its sensors.

"More and more people are living in major cities around the world and densities keep going up and up, so … if you give me the option of using those 45 [commuting] minutes productively by getting a head start on e-mails or something else, I would probably do it," said Hans Blesse, BMW Group Canada president.

Ride-sharing services are already planning to deploy self-driving cars. Uber, which tested self-driving taxis in Pittsburgh, is striving to make ride-sharing so affordable and convenient that it becomes a legitimate alternative to car ownership, company founder Travis Kalanick told The Economist.

Conceivably, consumers will use their mobile phones to call for a self-driven, zero-emission, electrically-powered vehicle. Several commuters in Calgary could band together for a ride to the 17th Ave. C-Train station. In Burlington, Ont., they'd ferry together to a GO Transit station then train into Toronto. The cumulative effect would be to save fuel, reduce congestion, improve safety.

Aside from the safety and mobility aspects, AVs could take the drudgery out of the drive.

BMW's 7 Series has already incorporated gesture control, allowing the driver to control certain functions without touching the screen or knobs. Audi's redesigned A5 includes a second-generation infotainment platform that allows passengers to surf the Internet at high speed with their mobile devices, and an interface on the screen facilitates control of smartphones with the iOS or the Android operating system.

AV news dominated the Consumer Electronics Show show in January. Volvo partnered with Ericsson to develop smart HD streaming – the service will pick TV shows that can be watched within the time it takes to get from one place to another. Volkswagen showed a concept van with tech designed to let occupants play games and stream music directly from their smartphones. And BMW vectored the seats in a concept i8 by 15 degrees to facilitate conversation between passengers.

And while enhancing mobility and safety as a benefit to society, the consequence of mass acceptance of AVs may mean be fewer jobs for truck, bus and taxi drivers, personal-injury lawyers, insurers, automotive repair technicians and others.

Nonetheless, the technology is coming, sure as snow in winter.

"There's a whole lot of work to do still but people forget, when the internal combustion engine came out, you had to go buy gasoline at the pharmacy," Blesse said.

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A premium problem

Self-driving cars will be much safer, which means the auto insurance industry as we know it will completely change and so must our laws

With the pending arrival of autonomous vehicles, are the insurance industry's days numbered?

It would seem that way. Self-driving cars have the potential to save lives and save consumers money in premiums – and experts say the industry must change drastically and be creative with its products to survive.

"Anything that makes cars safer is very pro-social and bad for the auto insurance industry," Warren Buffett told CNBC in May. His company, Berkshire Hathaway, owns insurance giant Geico. "If there are no accidents, there is no need for insurance."

He predicts there will be a big reduction of rates and a lot less insurance to write.

"I believe like every insurer, we're having those conversations," says John Bordignon, of State Farm. "We're in the 'wait-and-see approach', we're still in early days. We have to see where technology is going … and how liability is going to change."

Mark Francis, manager of driver and vehicle licensing for the Insurance Corporation of B.C., says rates are starting to come down for owners of vehicles with semi-autonomous features such as lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control.

"As features increase, there is going to be downward pressure on companies to track loss data accurately," he says. "They are going to have to drop to stay competitive."

While the industry is concerned about sharp drops in revenue, few companies are getting out in front of the issue, Francis says.

"Adopting this 'wait-and-see approach' is not good for business and it won't serve the industry well," he says. "The industry is going to have to be more adaptive."

Volvo, Ford and other companies have already said they will accept 'full liability' in the future when a car crashes in autonomous mode. They believe the technology will be that good.

"There may be less accidents, but the accidents that do occur are going to be quite interesting (from a legal standpoint)," says Jason Katz, a personal injury lawyer with Singer Kwinter in Toronto.

He says it will be a while before manufacturers are fighting each other in court, but if a passenger is injured, he or she can collect more from a car maker than another driver.

"There is a lot more money for these seriously injured people," says Katz.

The need for new laws

"The law right now is pretty much silent on the issue," says Mark Virgin, a personal injury lawyer with Stevens Virgin in B.C. "Autonomous vehicles in Canada, they are not being spoken to in any of the legislation. It is the area we are most behind."

Virgin says technology is way ahead of regulation and there will be a number of struggles for regulators: Does an AV operator need a license? Can it be used while impaired? Can kids drive alone?

"I don't think it will eliminate the personal injury field, but it will drastically reduce the number of claims, assuming that technology advances as (auto makers) claim," Virgin says.

The law firm Borden Ladner Gervais issued a report in August stating even if a car is in semi-autonomous mode, the driver is liable. So, while you can let go of the wheel for short periods of highway driving, you aren't off the legal hook if something happens.

"For fully autonomous vehicles," the report says, "it would seem that legislative amendments would be required to clarify whether the owner would be vicariously liable and under what circumstances."

The 2016 federal budget provided $7.3-million over two years to develop a regulatory framework for emerging technology such as autonomous vehicles. The Senate standing committee on Transport and Communications will also study implications and challenges, including impacts on privacy, energy, land use and employment.

"The technology is rapidly evolving and we're not ready for it in the public space," says Senator Michael MacDonald. "I don't think it is something the government of Canada can avoid being active in … But rules, regulations take a long time."

The committee is expected to present its findings in spring of 2017.

In the United States, eight states have enacted autonomous vehicle legislation. Ontario is the only province actively seeking companies/organizations to take part in a pilot project to and test AVs.

"A pilot phase allows the ministry to establish rules, monitor industry developments and evaluate the safety of AVs prior to them becoming widely available to the public," wrote the Ontario Ministry of Transportation in an e-mail. Ontario Transportation minister Steven Del Duca says there have been expressions of interest, but admits so far no entity has formally enrolled in the program.

"They are good moves, but not enough," says Barrie Kirk, executive director of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence. "Ontario is leading Canada, they are out in front in terms of funding for AVs, but at the same time, when I look at G7 countries, Canada is not only dead-last in terms of preparedness, but way behind the other six countries."

The tipping point

The term 'self-driving car' has many meanings – everything from cars with self-driving features such as a Tesla with Autopilot to vehicles with no steering wheel.

"There is this scary barrier, as the systems get better, but not as good as humans, our ability to monitor them drops off dramatically," says Steve Waslander, director of the Waterloo Autonomous Vehicle Laboratory. "If Tesla gets any better they are going to have to take it off the road because it could be very dangerous."

Waslander says the technology for assisted driving on the highway is as good as it can possibly get without endangering lives. Drivers are still responsible and can't be lulled into a false sense of security.

The biggest indication true autonomous vehicles have arrived won't be any sort of technological breakthrough, it will be when drivers no longer pay insurance.

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Street Smart

From no parking garages to no traffic lights, autonomous vehicles mean city planners and politicians have a real chance to design a more liveable city

Self-driving Cars The cities of the future: No traffic, parking or lights

2:39

In the city of the future, commutes will be shorter. There won't be street or underground parking or even traffic lights. Instead, there will be more green space, more cyclists, pedestrians on the road, and less space devoted to cars. Future generations may never have to worry about parking, speeding tickets, distracted drivers and may never witness a car crash. Shared, electric, self-driving cars will pick people up upon request and woosh them to their destinations.

This is the vision city planners and researchers have for major cities in 20-40 years.

The big fear, however, is that autonomous vehicles will instead clog up streets and exacerbate problems already caused by cars.

"If we simply replace autonomous vehicles one-for-one for the cars we have today, nothing really changes," says Jennifer Keesmaat, chief planner for the City of Toronto.

Jennifer Keesmaat is Toronto’s first female chief planner and the first to be hired from the private sector.

Jennifer Keesmaat is Toronto’s first female chief planner and the first to be hired from the private sector.

Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

A study – compiled by the location technology company, Here, and analyst group SBD – found autonomous vehicles will make Britain's roads more congested. Accordingly, Toronto's 65-minute average commute time would get worse. Congestion already costs the Greater Toronto Area as much as $11-billion a year.

"We really want to think about how we can harness autonomous vehicles to serve the city and make the city what we want," says Steve Buckley, former general manager of transportation services for the City of Toronto.

Steve Buckley, Toronto's general manager of transportation services, sits on his desk in Toronto city hall.

Steve Buckley, Toronto’s general manager of transportation services, sits on his desk in Toronto city hall.

Deb Baic/The Globe and Mail

How we created the problem

Most North American cities began to expand after the Second World War, as the car came of age.

"We began redesigning our cities to accommodate cars," says Keesmaat. "We started making roads wider, we built a freeway system across North America based on the dream that you could have a very easy, quick ride from A to B. And, of course, that dream hasn't held."

Instead, 25 per cent of the total land area in cities like Toronto is dedicated to roads, which are often congested.

"The introduction of cars as the primary form of transportation in our cities was based on a false premise … that there would be enough room on the street for everyone to be getting around with ease in their car," Keesmaat says. It "was a fundamental premise that we got wrong."

The end result: streets that are not pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly.

"The big problem for the planning profession is, they don't actually get to do planning because the car has created a situation where they are, instead of planning for the future, trying to fix the problem of the past," says David Ticoll, of the Innovation Policy Lab at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs. "But you have to deal with the cards you are dealt. You have a canvas full of stuff. And, then this thing (autonomous vehicles) comes along, and you have a whole new toolkit."

The goal is to use self-driving cars to create a better, more livable city.

"It should be the vision that drives the conversation," says Antonio Gomez-Palacio, principal of planning and urban design at Dialog. "What does it mean for parking, transit and transportation systems? Otherwise we'll be straddled with the unintended consequences."

Gomez-Palacio says technology should be adapted to create the best possible city. In other words, the tail shouldn't wag the dog.

The city of the future

Gomez-Palacio and other planners say the city of the future is one with reduced dependency on the car.

According to Canadian Automobile Association data, the average cost to own and operate a car is $10,456 a year. That is a lot of money for something, that Keesmaat says sits idle 97 per cent of the time. Love of driving aside, Ticoll says the selling feature to the shared car may be that it will cost 20-30 per cent of what it currently costs.

If cars are shared and constantly in use, cities could eliminate street parking, but will need dedicated zones for loading passengers. Highrises won't need vast underground parking. Buckley suspects traffic signals will communicate with cars to let them know when lights are going to change so they can operate most efficiently.

"If you are looking [forward] 30-to-40 years, you'd notice all the vehicles will be electric self-driving taxis, you'd notice human drivers were generally banned, you'd notice far less parking, and hopefully, if city policies are in alignment, those parking spaces would be green spaces," says Barrie Kirk, executive director of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence. "It would be a less-polluted and much more pleasant place to live."

MIT's Senseable City Lab goes a step further and eliminates traffic lights. It shows how cars – through communication with each other – can adjust speed to cross an intersection at a specific time, saving time and energy.

By becoming better at detecting objects – including pedestrians and cyclists – that human drivers, autonomous vehicles enable safer mingling of cars, bikers and walkers. Think about it. Which would a cyclist trust more: a few dozen cameras and sensors, or two eyes, which may be looking at a smartphone? And with autonomous vehicles capable of driving closer together, each lane would have a greater load capacity, meaning other lanes could potentially be repurposed.


A biker uses the protected bike lanes along Richmond Street West in Toronto’s Entertainment District.

Indeed, remove the human element from driving and naturally, traffic should decrease dramatically. In a 2008 experiment by the Mathematical Society of Traffic Flow and the University of Nagoya, Japan, 22 drivers were instructed to drive on a circular road at 30 km/h. But they weren't able to keep constant speeds or distances, each speeding up and slowing down, and eventually coming to a dead stop.

"In 20 or 30 years from now, we'll look back at this moment in history and say, 'Wow, that was terrible, remember when people used to commute for 45 minutes each way?'" says Keesmaat. "Great cities are places where sometimes you can walk, sometimes you can cycle, sometimes you can take transit, sometimes you can take a car and, if we see autonomous vehicles as being a part of the layering to all of those movement choices, they can enhance our overall city building objectives."

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