City needs to plan for driverless vehicles, say councillors

A panel discussion at the University of Windsor about accessibility when it comes to autonomous vehicles, sparked a larger conversation about how the City of Windsor is preparing for the driverless revolution.

'It’s coming and it’s a conversation i really think we should be having'

This Level 3 autonomous car from Magna is one of two vehicles used to test at border crossings. Drivers are able to take their eyes of the road, their hands off the steering wheel and feet off the pedals thanks to sensors. (Colin Côté-Paulette/Radio-Canada)

Two councillors agree that Windsor needs a formalized strategy on how to deal with driver-less vehicles hitting the city streets. 

The comments come after a panel discussion at the University of Windsor discussed accessibility when it comes to autonomous vehicles.

Fahad Khan was a speaker at the discussion on Wednesday. He works for the City of Toronto to figure out how self-driving cars will affect the city. 

Khan meets regularly with different city departments like fire, police, and engineering services to coordinate 

"The city changes, it's not just driving, the infrastructure of the city itself changes," Khan said to a crowd at the university. 

'It's coming'

Ward 7 Coun. Irek Kusmierczk attended the discussion Wednesday. 

"What I really liked hearing is that the City of Toronto has formalized a committee who are coming around the table to have the conversation of how we can incorporate this type of technology into the city," he said. "It's coming and it's a conversation I really think we should be having."

Ward 7 Counc. Irek Kusmierczk said he's excited to see how autonomous vehicles impact Windsor in the future. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

But Windsor isn't completely in the dust when it comes to introducing autonomous vehicles into the community.  A partnership between Ontario and Michigan was made in July to test self-driving cars at border crossings — the two jurisdictions signed a memorandum of understanding. 

At that time, Mayor Drew Dilkens announced Windsor and Detroit were teaming up to test autonomous vehicles.

'Step up our efforts'

Today, Coun. Bill Marra said the mayor has been "working behind the scenes" on autonomous vehicle projects, but agrees that a formalized strategic approach would help the city. 

Coun. Bill Marra said the city needs a formalized plan to introduce autonomous vehicles to the area. 0:42

"I think we need to step up our efforts, said Marra. "I think this is a conversation everyone has an appetite for."

Marra said that Windsor can offer research opportunities for the technology through the college and the university, and that the cross-border location gives Windsor the chance to be a leader in the industry.