BIG NEWS / Smiths Falls / Technology / The Wedge

The End of Driving in Ontario : What’s Behind Road Planning

By MAGGIE M, Editor, Wedgee-in-Chief, theWedge.LIVE



The years 2019 up to 2030 will be remembered less as “disruptive”–the mot-du-jour among silicon seers–than as destructive. We are on the eve of an accelerated, deliberate collapse of the automotive and oil industries–and almost countless ancillary manufacturing and auto services that feed off of these industries.

“By 2030 the oil and pipeline industry will be on life support,” Barrie Kirk, Executive Director CAVCOE (Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence) gleefully exclaimed in our interview a few weeks ago.

Kirk began our interview stating the average number of vehicle fatalities per year, “1,800 in Canada.” This is a key narrative behind the fast development of internet-driven “autonomous vehicles (AVs)”. I did not obtain information on the number of vehicles involved; if we assume there were two occupants per vehicle, it could be 900 vehicles–for argument sake. Nor did we discuss numbers by road conditions such as black ice and snow storms. The presumption in our discussion was human error is the cause of these fatalities, ergo the driver must be removed from the equation.

AVs are not quite autonomous as on-board computers must upload and download data at 5G speed in order to ensure their safety. The failure of data transfer could increase the number of collisions without this technology which can relay data 360 degrees, even when view is obstructed, in real time.

“Computers may still fail but if we can reduce fatalities by 80%. It’s worth it,” Kirk adds, having computed that data fails 20% of the time.

On board, the vehicles will feature three key pieces of hardware: LIDAR, video cameras and radar. LIDAR is an acronym for “light detection and ranging,” and its purposes is to pulse light to determine distance and range from other vehicles and users. Short-range or long-range radar will send out signals which will bounce back adding to this information.

“5G will be very important with autonomous vehicles,” Kirk says emphatically. “It will be very quick [data transfer.]”

Some autonomous shared vehicles will resemble small buses.

Although gas powered vehicles coming off the conveyor belt currently house at least 5% software, this will grow incrementally while the production of battery-charged vehicles slide into Tesla lots and Uber lots; but, the supply falls short of the eventual, imposed demand. Auto manufacturers are aware of this shift and are attempting to adapt.

How can auto manufacturers pivot from the combustion engine to an electrical paradigm, a battery-powered vehicle within a decade? They can’t. I foresee, their last gas-powered vehicles will come off the line, their plants will be closed for an unimaginable reset–or complete failure. The shift will require the marginalization of mechanical engineers, a massive increase of electrical engineers and a new breed of technology experts.

Already, we have a glimpse of our automotive future through Elon Musk and his progress with Tesla, the company he owns. On April 13, 2019, he announced without fanfare in a tweet that their autonomous vehicles will increase in price “substantially over time.” The price point for these vehicles are expected to be beyond the masses’ reach–and perhaps an elite item.

So what is the solution to an affordable shift to electrical, autonomous vehicles? Wait for it. The masses will share vehicles they do not own.

The narrative around “mobility as service” (a common term in AV development) is that Canadians will save $3,000. CAD annually using an app on their mobile phone to call a Uber-styled taxi for all their road travel. A monthly user fee e.g. $100 is most often quoted. Ostensibly, this is metering our movement.

The public is not meant to drive vehicles–or to own vehicles. This is the agenda in progress with first trials targeted for 2020 to 2022 in a long, broad corridor across Ontario and reaching into Quebec. The Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA) has already obtained approval from municipalities through council resolutions.

The corridor is massive here in East Ontario. It is not one road. Below is an initial map published March 2019. I interviewed the association and learned that municipalities have the right to, “change roads in the test in seconds.” In other words, the routes are determined by council.

Initial map 2019 for AV test corridor in Ontario. Upper right indicates multiple routes across rural East Ontario. Graphics by MAVACO/OGRA

My mind is whirling with the corollary effects of this shift. Adoption of autonomous vehicles extends from combines to haulers. What becomes of marine craft, air craft and rail transport–all fuel powered?

A conundrum develops as I muse on the number of these vehicles on the road–it does not resolve the ideologues’ traffic density. Brace yourself for the solution.

We will be joining others in these vehicles. This is “ride-sharing.”

I considered the fervor with which the town of Smiths Falls pushed its “complete streets” on an unwitting public that had believed their desire to keep angled parking was resolved. Their council reversed the decision after the elections.

The town is scheduled for this corridor test. Its roads are being prepped for this future where new autonomous taxis will stop in what seems to be parking, but is in actuality stopping zones to deliver and pick-up occupants. Parallel parking will soon cede to parallel stopping for smaller electrical vehicles, taxis and buses.

Kirk states the change will be incremental; but, ten years to completion is hardly subtle. And the public is not yet engaged in this agenda.

“Seniors and millennials will adopt the change. Our greatest resistance will be from middle-aged men,” Kirk admits. I have presented the AV agenda to millennials, left-leaning women and men, and the response was extremely negative–bordering on rebellion, literally fist-waving.

People will not easily part with the freedom to drive their cars, whenever and wherever they desire–of this you can be sure.

The technocrats are working together hand-in-glove with all levels of governments. 1,060 acres in Ottawa have been testing ground for AVs for some time. Deployment is closing in.

STAY-TUNED for much more on this topic.

In the video below Kirk presents all the data he shared with me.


One thought on “The End of Driving in Ontario : What’s Behind Road Planning

  1. More fetishization of technology as a cure-all for the climate crisis. Geo-engineering will not save us, no matter how “green” these corporations and lobbyists try and package it. Electricity is still energy. Storage is a problem. Manufacturing all new fleets of vehicles will not be good for the environment. Mass industry pollution and waste will continue to go unchecked, while the average citizen absorbs more and more of the cost. This, from a left-leaning woman who still has critical thinking skills and doesn’t fall for branding without substance.


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