York designing roadmap for self-driving vehicles

‘Self-driving vehicles,’ ‘driverless vehicles, ‘autonomous vehicles.’ Regardless of which term you prefer, computer-controlled vehicles that can drive on their own will likely become common in the not-too-distant future and York Region plans to be ready.

“We cannot wait for new technology to be on our roads before we are finding ways to respond,” says Township of King Mayor Steve Pellegrini, Chair of the Region’s Transportation Services

Emerging technologies such as the self-driving car will require significant infrastructure in place in order to perform properly, including infrastructure like traffic signals, which will soon need to communicate directly with vehicles, the Region notes.

According to a Region report recently presented to Council, staff has been working over the past two years with researchers, government partners and industry to better understand and prepare for new transportation technology through information sharing, guideline development workshops, pilot testing and implementation of new technology in the field and into existing operations.

“Technology is changing the way people travel,” says York Chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson. “It is important to understand how we can be ready and how these advancements will make our services more efficient for all road users.”

The Region is already taking advantage of technological innovations. It has installed Bluetooth sensors to monitor real-time travel times to better coordinate traffic signals and provide travel time information to travellers and installed technology on York Region Transit buses to warn bus drivers of potential conflicts with pedestrians and cyclists in busy urban areas.

It’s is also exploring ways to improve emergency response times by outfitting emergency vehicles with tools to better communicate with traffic signals and beginning in 2020, will pilot six-fully electric transit buses in Newmarket.

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