Saskatchewan

Regina council eager to welcome driverless cars through long-term planning

City of Regina councillors have voted unanimously in favour of a motion to prepare the city for self-driving, connected and electric vehicles.

Report on impact, advantages due in 2019

GM has said it will be rolling thousands of self-driving cars out in 2019 for a ride sharing service like Uber. Pictured is an Uber driverless vehicle in San Francisco in 2016. (Eric Risberg/Associated Press)

City of Regina councillors have voted unanimously in favour of a motion to prepare the city for self-driving, connected and electric vehicles.

Coun. Mike O'Donnell brought a motion on the topic forward in a regular council meeting on Monday night.

He suggested city officials monitor the research and trials underway regarding autonomous and connected vehicles and report back to council in the second quarter of 2019 with an analysis of how these type of vehicles could impact and be advantageous to the city.

He said some of the research is happening in Canada, with Blackberry, BMW and Volvo all racing to be first on the roads.

"I think it's rather exciting," O'Donnell said.
Councillor Mike O'Donnell highlighted the need for more electric-vehicle charging stations (the city currently has eight) if the number of battery-powered cars increase. (Dean Gutheil/CBC)

"I think we would be very foolish if we said, 'This is like decades away, let's not bother.' That wouldn't be right in my view. I think we have to start looking at the short term."  

The Ward 8 councillor said he was struck by an announcement from General Motors last year. The company said it wants to put 30,000 autonomous and electric vehicles on the road by 2019 as part of a ride-hailing system.

A representative from city planning said autonomous transit vehicles will be considered. So, these changes don't necessarily mean more cars on the streets.

Planning future infrastructure

Coun. Bob Hawkins said future advancements on autonomous vehicles, electricity and green living should be considered when the city is planning new subdivisions.

"It's not good enough for us to plan for today. Planning for today is already out of date," he said. "We've got to be planning on a long term horizon."

O'Donnell highlighted the need for more electric-vehicle charging stations (the city currently has eight) if the number of battery-powered cars increase.

He also said the city should start looking into what's needed to facilitate connected vehicles, which would notify drivers what's going on in traffic well before they are in the area through sensors on both the road and in new cars.

Coun. Barbara Young said a motion with similar suggestions was brought up as recently as two years ago, highlighting the need for movement on the subject now.

"Sometimes change comes faster than we might like it to, but we have to be on top of it," she said.

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