CAV - Desktop

More sophisticated vehicles, such as Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs), will arrive on our roads — it’s no longer a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. With the ability to transform society into one that is safer, more efficient and more sustainable, CAVs bring new opportunities and new challenges. Transportation and mobility are on the verge of a paradigm shift and public agencies need to shift focus towards preparing for that future - here is how we can begin.


What are CAVs and what are their impacts?

CAVs are the unification of two distinctive and complimentary categories of technology — connectivity and automation. These vehicles have the capability to be connected to a network, exchanging information with each other and with the surrounding road infrastructure, while also automating a component of the driving task. Down the road, this technology will likely evolve further to full, unrestricted automated driving.

Envisioning how CAVs will alter infrastructure needs and change our travel behaviour is challenging, but what is clear is that CAVs will fundamentally change mobility as we know it. New business models may capitalize on CAVs and encourage the use of shared transportation service offerings, while improved accessibility and the convenience of the technology may enable longer commutes, and trigger more single occupant trips and increases in travel demand.


What are the key takeaways to prepare for CAVs?

CAVs present both challenges and opportunities to public transportation agencies.  Although they are being designed to operate with existing infrastructure, there is still an opportunity for public agencies to consider emerging trends. It is important to plan for the integration of CAVs on public roads to harness the benefits and manage the risks of a changing transportation system. The decisions that are made today on infrastructure, planning and policy will influence how well this technology serves the public in the future.


Five Key Steps to becoming ready for Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs)

From WSP’s work on the CAV Readiness Plan for the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area and Kitchener/Waterloo Corridor, as well as research and interviews with industry stakeholders, the following 5 key steps are identified as strategies for governments and public transportation agencies to complete concurrently and focus on becoming CAV ready:

1. Develop a CAV-friendly legal, regulatory and policy environment

Restrictive laws, regulations and policies can create barriers to the development and testing of CAV technology. Fostering a legal, regulatory and policy environment that is open to CAVs can reduce these barriers and guide innovation growth while maintaining a safe transportation network. This includes:

  • A legal framework (similar to Ontario’s Automated Vehicle legislation) paving the way for advanced vehicle technologies to legally drive on roads, and creating a regulated environment that allows for innovation with opportunities to identify improvements and address limitations.
  • Policies to leverage CAVs to improve network safety, traffic management, congestion management and operations. 
  • Public education to instill confidence and lead to more openness to using CAV technology, highlighting measures put in place to integrate CAVs on roads and utilizing new safety opportunities that they may present.


2. Consider CAV and emerging mobility trends in long-range transportation planning initiatives

CAVs and other emerging mobility trends (e.g. ride-hailing, car-sharing, micro-mobility etc.) can transform transportation and urban mobility.  Considering them in transportation planning initiatives can position transportation agencies to effectively tackle challenges and foresee opportunities to maximize the use of the technology and minimize any negative impacts. It sets the stage for identifying investment and infrastructure needs, while also outlining plans and strategies for further consideration.  This includes:

  • Updates to transportation masterplans to include more detailed considerations on the potential impacts that CAVs and other mobility trends can have on land-development, infrastructure needs and travel demand forecasting.
  • Updates to travel demand models and long-range forecasts to include scenarios related to CAVs and/or mobility services, as well as to account for new parameters and assumptions related to emerging transportation trends.


3. Identify digital and physical infrastructure needs to maintain a safe transportation network.

Public transportation agencies are responsible for the safety of the overall transportation network.  CAVs, with their full potential unlocked, are expected to make transportation safer and improve traffic flow as they can interact with each other and their surrounding infrastructure.  However, transportation agencies could identify needs and provide the supporting physical and digital infrastructure to better support CAVs, including:

  • Developing strategies to manage the transition phases with mixed conventional and CAV traffic, while also considering the performance of the network under urban, rural and freeway operations. 
  • Supporting vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) compatible technology to leverage safety benefits, and physical infrastructure requirements to ensure safe interactions between CAVs, pedestrians and cyclists.  Rural areas also require consideration, as a lack of network coverage can limit connectivity.
  • Maintaining the security of the transportation network by ensuring the necessary security protocols are in place to protect connected infrastructure against cyberattacks.


4. Develop strategies for managing large data-sets while maintaining user privacy

CAVs will generate large volumes of data and serve as a new type of data collection method by continuously transmitting information on the operations of the vehicle and surrounding environment.  It is important for a consistent data governance structure with clear protocols to be in place to maintain the integrity and security of the information. Key criteria on data processing, management, storage, sharing and privacy considerations are important to ensure that the integrity of the data is maintained and the potential use of the data is maximized.  This will ensure that the necessary information is available to support planning and decision-making needs.


5. Think outside the box on collaboration, funding and partnership opportunities

CAVs are disrupting the traditional relationship between manufacturers, the public and the public sector. As a result, there needs to be different mechanisms for delivering and funding projects. Collaboration between transportation agencies significantly contributes to the harmonization of strategies and allows for jointly funded projects and information to be shared.  Partnerships between the public and private sector and academia can lead to effective pilot programs, as well as use of different funding sources (e.g. grants, Smart City challenges etc.) developed to spur innovation and commercialization. Pilot programs could cover a wide variety of areas and often combine efforts to test various aspects of CAVs, including:

  • Dedicating public roads to allow for testing of on-board and roadside technology for manufacturers to refine their technology, as well as for transportation agencies to determine what strategies they need to maintain a safe and secure transportation network. 
  • Identifying physical infrastructure needs during transition periods, testing the use of V2I technology to improve traffic flow, and testing the interaction of automated vehicle technologies with pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Testing CAV technology and supportive digital infrastructure in a real-world environment under inclement weather – an environment that is important for ensuring the safety of the transportation network in all seasons.



Chris Stogios
Engineer-in-Training, ITS & Technology Planning
Geoff Knapp
Senior Project Manager, ITS & Technology Planning

Reviewed by Mara Bullock, National ITS & Technology Planning Manager


To learn more, please visit our Connected and Automated Vehicles service page.


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