Driverless cars are being tested in cities around the world, and now five city councillors in Calgary are hoping to make their city a central hub for real-world experiments.
“We want to start to really look at what kind of opportunities we might take advantage of in terms of transportation but also in terms of economic development,” said Coun. Evan Woolley, who is part of a group proposing to make the technology a priority for the city.
“Calgary has some advantages,” Woolley said. “We’ve actually got a mixed municipal topography both in our built form and in our weather which is actually really conducive in testing these vehicles.”
Before driverless cars can start roaming Calgary roads, changes are needed from the provincial government to allow for widespread testing of the technology.
“For full autonomous vehicles, not a lot of cities are moving forward on that or are moving very, very slowly and I think this is an opportunity we can have if we’re willing to work with the provincial government (and) with these companies. Instead of testing at one specific location, we can start to test these throughout the city.”
Woolley, along with councillors Richard Pootmans, Gian-Carlo Carra, Shane Keating and Peter Demong, is also proposing that Calgary’s economic development department work on a business case to attract autonomous vehicle companies to the city.
“There are a number of companies that have shown interest and we’ve been having conversations with them,” Woolley said. “We need to take advantage of these new technologies and the opportunities that come with the jobs and investments into cities that might be possible.”
The proposal goes before Calgary city council on Monday.