Last week’s tweetstorm between Elon Musk and Jarrett Walker was another sad chapter in the ongoing polarization between those who elect to own and use private cars and those who do not or cannot. This century-old standoff turns users of transit, drivers of light-duty vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians into frustrated, aggressive or fearful players in… Read More

Last week, an unusual report was released by the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO): “Ontario Must Prepare for Vehicle Automation: How Skilled Governance Can Influence its Outcome.” What makes this report so unusual is that it proposes a solution to the uncertainty about the nature, timing, and diffusion of automated vehicles in the… Read More

Private-sector investors and their public sector counterparts should consider how autonomous vehicles might affect their investment in new transportation infrastructure. These $9 billion proposed P3 lanes would need to be tolled well beyond the multi-decade diffusion period of driverless cars. Maryland Proposes $9B Public-Private Partnership To Widen I-495, I-270, MD-295. Reuters (9/21, Shepardson) reports on Thursday,… Read More

On Sep. 14th, Metrolinx, focusing on the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Region (GTHA), released its draft Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). I highlighted selected passages relevant to thinking about autonomous vehicles. I am concerned about a mismatch in the draft between current and expected demand, expected disruption from automation, and the projection of “priority bus systems”.… Read More

Disrupted by technology and politics! – The future of the taxi medallion system & for-hire ground transportation industry. From Wim Faber’s Taxi Intelligence newsletter Importance: Shows a larger view being taken regarding Taxi and FHV industries under one legislative umbrella A likely preview of the coming inclusion of robo-taxis, 2020+ Shows growing movement toward one taxi… Read More

The first idea is pro-people and pro-city.  What is good about this idea is that improvement can creep in as the parked automobile creeps out, it works incrementally and at a minor expense per increment.  Once in place, it can be moved, shuffled and changed – and of course expanded. The second idea is pro-machine and… Read More

On examining PWC’s Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2017: Canada and the United States 2017, it is surprising that vehicle automation is not discussed in the report, although one mention was made of live/work/play (an adjacent, but structurally very different idea) regarding Raleigh/Durham (p.43). Otherwise, “auto” is only mentioned with respect to real estate value in… Read More

In order to get an early start on studying mixed-use autonomous, non-autonomous driving, Toronto has begun a pilot to try mixing traffic in our new shared-use courier-and-bike lanes. This is a significant advance over just a few years ago when we had only car lanes, and it shows considerable foresight in transportation planning, for which… Read More

Vehicle automation, for which safety and mobility have been the central focus to date, touches on almost everything. Some of these things are visible and exciting to contemplate such as its seemingly magical technology and its promise of easy riding, more productivity, and relief from the tedium of traffic congestion — the last of which… Read More

There is no doubt that motorized vehicles are becoming self-driving, but it is uncertain how quickly fully driverless automation will become significant or pervasive. Throughout North America, we are often advised to prepare for this change —to incorporate driverless vehicles into the next round of infrastructure and transit planning. To build less of certain kinds… Read More

In our book chapter, Transit Leap: A Deployment path for shared-use autonomous vehicles that supports sustainability (Springer, 2017), we described a way for regional and municipal governments to start deploying local area, autonomous transit. We described seeking out small areas in which demand would be constrained to short trips that could be safely provided in… Read More

In the 2020s, regional governments will be faced with governing growing numbers of automated and semi-automated vehicles. These vehicles might be privately owned by households, owned by new mobility firms such as Uber and Google which would operate them as taxis, shuttles and jitneys, or government operated and sometimes owned by infrastructure investors under public-private… Read More

Carlos Ghosn, Nissan Chairman.  2017.03.02. Some of these YouTube sections are a must-watch. More here at Washington Post. Few people in the auto industry (even fewer in the press) are as straight about automation as is Ghosn. Quotes: “Cars are emotional objects” (=> ownership remains a big draw) “Cars (AVs) will turn over faster” (=>… Read More

I recently received an email that included the statement: “All of the major car companies have a stake in the ride market either in partnership or in leading new ventures.” This certainly sounds right, and many take this to mean BigAuto sees the writing on the wall about the rise of robo car/ride sharing. Of course.… Read More

A central aspect of human behavior is that one of our most constrained resources is attention. We always seem able to find more energy, pack people into denser spaces, or squeeze more nutrition out of a hectare. But how much a person can focus on while awake is a limited resource. When you hit its… Read More

Buried in this Route Fifty article about Uber’s data transparency (or lack of) are important warnings about the creeping privatization of transit. “Public transit is very, very expensive,” said [Frank Martz, City Manager of Altamonte Springs, Florida]. “It’s not practical for local government budgets to continue funding higher cost per trip, or non-efficient, or lesser… Read More

Toronto’s Mayor John Tory should be recognized as a very brave mayor when he called for road tolls, today. Unfortunately, this call will please few. Many travellers will not like to pay any toll (this has been true in Canada well before cars were invented, as shown in this 1863 Cornelius_Krieghoff painting “The Tollgate”. I suspect… Read More

From a current Motor Trend article… (highlights mine). The semi-autonomous Autopilot system, which has gotten its share of bad press lately, is still a technological marvel, reducing the driver’s workload by an order of magnitude and making the driving experience a stress-free affair while on a well-marked highway. This, in itself, makes semi-automated vehicles desirable.… Read More

October 2016: A report was released  by the Residential & Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (, entitled “Ontario Must Prepare for Vehicle Automation: Automated vehicles can influence urban form, congestion and infrastructure delivery”. This report, applicable to any city population over 100,000, details the interaction between two independent and competing markets for vehicle automation: household semi-automated vehicles… Read More

Bruce Katz (Brookings) writes a short comment about innovation in the automated vehicle space predicting rising fortunes for cities with the right stuff to innovate. The full economic benefits of breakthrough technologies, of course, accrue to those few cities that have the capacity to invent them. He was extolling Pittsburgh with its Carnegie Mellon University AI… Read More

Despite the chattering on the web about the May 7 fatal crash of a Tesla that was operating on a Florida highway under the control of its Autopilot software, there is nothing definitive to be learned about the event until the NHTSA investigation is finished with its conclusions and recommendations. That is, unless Tesla releases… Read More

These two notes re Uber in Toronto  are taken from page 7 (Road Transportation) of the May 2016 Transportation Information Update (No. 141) prepared by Joseph Monteiro and Gerald Robertson for the Canadian Transportation Research Forum and distributed to CILTNA’s members with permission. UberX will be allowed to operate legally in Toronto, city council decides… Read More

A paper by Grush and Niles has been named Runner-up for the best conference paper at the 2016 annual Canadian Transportation Research Forum in Toronto. The paper, “How cities can use autonomous vehicles to increase transit ridership and reduce household vehicle ownership” was one of 100 papers presented at the conference. From the Introduction: Automated… Read More

This TVO video is starting to show a balanced discussion between private ownership and public service vehicles, but still somewhat blurred as possible futures.  Cherise Burda held out the strongest for planning the world we want rather than waiting to see.  To Steve Paikin’s consistent credit, his guests were worth hearing from. This video from… Read More

It is important to question the assertion that fully autonomous vehicles will be available in showrooms for household consumption by 2020. This seems to be implied in marketing language used by automakers and suppliers and Silicon Valley and is often passed on uncritically by journalists and commenters. Fully autonomous, SAE Level 5 means that no… Read More

A video article from the Motley Fool: “Monetizing the Autonomous Car: A Long and Winding Road” refers to a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute called: “Automated Vehicle Crash Rate Comparison Using Naturalistic Data”.  One of the speakers on the video, Armun Asgari, at time=4:15, says the Virginia Tech report shows that Google Self-driving… Read More

Should you take the view ‘if we hold back and wait for a few years then autonomous vehicles will cure all our problems’,  reading the opinions of two experts in the field (see page 62 and page 64) may make you think again. Caught between a tide of rising population, increasing urbanisation and ever-tighter budgetary constraints, today’s DOTs are no place for the… Read More

One of us recently attended an Automated Vehicle conference and compiled these comments. Because we are fairly critical of much current AV-thinking, we decided against disclosing which conference or which speakers/attendees we describe. We thought that prudent and fair, even if lacking in courage. No one yet understands how the autonomous vehicle future will roll… Read More

The fully autonomous vehicle (driverless, SAE Level 5) holds enormous promise for greater safety and greater efficiency for personal, private travel (household vehicle, robocab). This efficiency may apply to personal time, family expense, environmental harm, reduced congestion, fewer parking bays, lower crash costs, more livable urban design, lower household ownership, and many other anticipated effects.… Read More

A couple of years ago, John Niles and I started writing, blogging, and speaking about getting ready for autonomous vehicles. We called this work, collectively, The End Of Driving in recognition of our certainty that technology would displace the driver just as the automobile had replaced the horse. We’re still certain of this. Then, as… Read More

Many people tend to think about robotic mobility as nestled within our existing world of household vehicles, potholes, congestion and complex intersections. Others describe it in the context of a far-Jetsons future when no one living will even remember what it must have been like to own or drive a car. Neither of these perspectives… Read More

Some New Thoughts on Autonomous Vehicles [By Bob Poole, Reason Foundation. From: Surface Transportation Innovations #145, November 2015. Reprinted with permission.] Autonomous vehicles keep making news, with three October stories highlighting important questions. First, a Google self-driving car (the little pod without a steering wheel) was stopped by a traffic cop in Mountain View, CA for driving… Read More

Massive fleets of shared autonomous vehicles are desired and expected in the future. Rather than waiting and hoping for feature creep in privately-owned automobiles to evolve somehow into consumer demand for mobility in shared autonomous vehicles, the desired outcome will be realized sooner if public and private enterprises start now to deploy available, automated transit… Read More

Seventeen years after Singapore installed its electronic road pricing system, twelve years after the London Congestion Charge was implemented, ten years after Germany began tolling trucks on its highways, eight years after Stockholm installed its congestion charging system, and even after several other countries and cities have installed successful, effective, wide-area congestion pricing systems for… Read More

How realistic are the interpretations of several robo-taxi simulations made in the US, Sweden, and Portugal since 2012? Can we rely on these as discoveries to help indicate the size and range of robo fleets that might be possible? A recent OECD-sponsored International Transport Forum report regarding a robotaxi simulation in Lisbon Portugal builds on… Read More

Three important and interrelated questions being asked about cities and cars today are: How can we create more livable and sustainable communities with a more intelligent mix of mobility modes including walking, biking, transit use and planning such as Complete Streets? How can we reduce the environmental harm generated by motor vehicles independently of how… Read More

Will AVs [1] mean more or fewer household vehicles? Will they generate more VMT [2] or less? Promote more or less PMT [3]? Opinions range widely from “AVs will be clean and generally shared so no one would want to own one” to “AVs will be so useful and desirable that VMT and PMT will both… Read More

The AV arguably may be a key innovation for 21st-century automobility, but it is not “the one” that will really matter. Rather it is an enabler in a massive network of innovations most of which are as yet incomplete or unknown—certainly, very few of them are fully conceived and none are built. Many of these… Read More

It is easy to get excited about the promises made about autonomous vehicles.  Excited either way, I mean. For or against. But who do you believe? Someone who promises general availability by 2020 sounds a tad optimistic. (Have you noticed 2017 isn’t mentioned as much any more—this in spite of the fact that some autonomous vehicles are operating in… Read More