CALGARY — The well-known Calgary-Edmonton rivalry is showing signs of moving into the world of autonomous vehicles as each city gets set to jockey for prominence in the world of technology.
Five Calgary city councillors have signed a notice of motion asking city administration to join with Calgary Economic Development to study the merits of testing autonomous vehicles on Calgary streets. It calls for development of a business case and risk assessment report be made to council through the transportation and transit committee no later than the fourth quarter of this year.
The motion asks that if the study finds merit in the idea, the city ask the provincial government to introduce legislation that would allow autonomous vehicles to legally drive on the city’s streets.
Their motion cites business and natural advantages for testing AVs with “a wide variety of landscapes, roadways and climates” and says there’s been interest from AV manufacturers and supporting technology suppliers for testing in Calgary.
City councillors Evan Woolley and Peter Demong recently took a Tesla for a drive which Woolley said, “feels like the future.”
The motion is scheduled for debate at the next council meeting June 19.
Meanwhile, Edmonton is planning to partner with the University of Alberta to test autonomous vehicles. The city is considering setting up a test track at the U of A to evaluate driverless “light duty shuttles.”
“It’s a billion-dollar opportunity if we choose to play in this sector,” said Brad Ferguson, president and CEO of Edmonton Economic Development Corp.
A city council committee has approved a plan that would hire three new staff and provide $325,000 to the U of A project for purchase of a test vehicle. The plan will go before council the fall when it debates a new budget.
The idea is for Edmonton to attract companies wanting to invest in autonomous technology, says Coun. Andrew Knack.
“They need to test in winter climates,” he says. “If an automated vehicle is going to work in Edmonton, it’s going to work anywhere in the world.”
Paul Godsmark of the non-profit Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence says Edmonton’s goal of becoming the northern testing city for autonomous vehicles may be coming too late.
Driverless vehicles are already being road tested in Ontario, in several U.S. states and in Europe, he said.