Already a banner year in self-driving advancements —
including the first on-street test of an autonomous vehicle in Canada —
interest in the sector picked up in the closing months of 2017 after
Tesla Inc. showcased a fully electric semi-trailer truck.
Once thought of as a distant fantasy, autonomous trucks are moving
toward commercial reality on Canadian highways as companies look to
boost productivity amid a driver shortage and governments seek to reduce
They are not yet driving themselves out of warehouses and down the
highways, but companies of all sizes —including General Motors, Google
and Uber — are testing out the technology.
Already a banner year in self-driving advancements — including the
first on-street test of an autonomous vehicle in Canada — interest in
the sector picked up in the closing months of 2017 after Tesla Inc.
showcased a fully electric semi-trailer truck equipped with
semi-autonomous technology including enhanced autopilot, automated
braking and lane departure warnings.
Toronto trucking firm Fortigo Freight joined Loblaws and Walmart
Canada in each pre-ordering Tesla semis, the $232,000 electric truck set
to be delivered in 2019 that holds the promise of eventually becoming
Despite his company's investment, Fortigo president Elias Demangos
isn't holding his breath for widespread adoption in the next decade.
While the vehicles are ideally suited for corridors, such as Canada's
busiest route between Montreal and Windsor, Demangos believes drivers
will still be needed for short-haul services or to pick up and deliver
Already being used
Estimates on how far away we are from a driverless future vary
widely, but completely driverless trucks are already being used far from
traffic, on remote resource properties.
Suncor Energy is testing them at its oilsands operations in Alberta,
while Rio Tinto is expanding their deployment at its iron ore mines in
Rapid advances in technology are "revolutionizing" the way
large-scale mining is undertaken around the globe, said Chris Salisbury,
head of the mining giant's iron ore division.
Matt Grigsby, senior program engineer at
Otto, takes his hands off the steering wheel of the self-driving,
big-rig truck during a demonstration in San Francisco last year. (Tony
Transport Minister Marc Garneau travelled in October to Tesla's
headquarters in Silicon Valley as part of his push to study safety and
privacy issues associated with automated technologies to inform
regulations his government plans to craft.
He has asked a standing senate committee on transport and
communications to study regulatory and technical issues related to the
deployment of automated commercial vehicles, which have the potential to
improve the safety, efficiency and environmental performance of
Canada's transportation system. The committee is expected to deliver a
full report in January.
"There are significant policy, technical, and operational issues that
will need to be addressed in the coming years before fully automated
trucks are common on Canadian roads," said government spokeswoman
The Canadian association representing the trucking industry — where
autonomous technology could make the jobs of nearly 300,000 Canadians
obsolete — recently urged the committee to avoid even referring to the
technology as autonomous, much less driverless, preferring "advanced
Threat to jobs
The group acknowledges there is a long-term threat to trucking jobs
that the recent census said is the leading employer of Canadian men, but
insists that is unlikely to happen during the careers of existing
drivers and may even help to attract young people to the profession.
"The majority of Canadians are skeptical and rightfully so, of having
80,000 pound commercial vehicles driving without human intervention
alongside the highway beside them," said Marco Beghetto, vice-president
of communications for the Canadian Trucking Alliance.
"The new modern high-tech truck will introduce many changes to our
industry, but the constant will still be the driver, even if the role of
the job evolves with the technology," he told senators.
The International Transport Forum, an intergovernmental think-tank,
however, estimated that more than half of the 6.4 million driver jobs
needed globally in 2030 could become redundant if driverless trucks are
Automating the trucking industry will be more efficient because it
will cut labour costs by 40 per cent as trucks can operate for longer
hours, said Paul Godsmark, chief technology officer at the Canadian
Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence.
Source of article click here : CBC NEWS