Canada Is Not Ready for Driverless Cars: Report

Canada isn't even close to being ready for the arrival of driverless cars, a Senate committee said as it released a new report in Ottawa on Monday.

"We have to adapt to it as quickly as possible," said Liberal Sen. Dennis Dawson, adding "we have testing being done on the roads."

The 78-page report makes 16 recommendations to set Canada up for success, from job loss to protecting personal information via a national strategy for cybersecurity to oversight.

Hackers are a concern, as is the erosion of personal privacy.

Without strong safeguards in place, cyberterrorists could take control of Canadian cars from halfway across the world,” the report reads.

“Less dramatic but no less serious is the question of what corporations will do with the information automatic and connected vehicles provide.”

The recommendations urge various government departments to work with innovators - such as BlackBerry, which opened its QNX facility in Ottawa in 2016, and the University of Waterloo - to lay the groundwork for policy encouraging responsible development.

"A lot of these technologies are already saving lives," said Dawson, pointing out blindspot detection and cameras are standard in new vehicles.

Fully automatic cars could be on the road in 10 to 15 years and will one day be capable of performing virtually all driving tasks.

That's all the more reason to stay ahead of the game, said Dawson.

"When Uber came down the technology was going much faster than the government," Dawson said.

He references the legalization of recreational marijuana.

"The provinces aren't ready for it," said Dawson, adding provincial and municipal governments knew the feds were introducing legislation.

Roads are a provincial responsibility but vehicles fall under federal jurisdiction.

Dawson said a coordinated national strategy will be necessary to ensure Canadians benefit from these technologies.

"These new technologies will be dealt with very differently," he said.

The Liberal government is going to be preparing regulations for autonomous vehicles.

A KPGM report released on Jan. 17 found Canada could be one of the first on the road with self-driving vehicles.

A driverless car - or shuttle bus, to be exact - was even used on Parliament Hill last September to take Senators for a spin with Minister of Transport Marc Garneau.

We are on the cusp of a transportation revolution and Canada must be ready," said Dawson.

Photos: Senate of Canada

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