Is it possible that Torontonians could one day hop a TTC bus to find there’s no driver at the wheel?
According to TTC CEO Andy Byford, we’ll just have to wait and see.
However, a recent Toronto Star article by transportation reporter Ben Spurr notes, “the TTC would be happy to become a leader,” if driverless buses do become available.
Some companies have been able to develop autonomous transit vehicles that operate on closed courses, but this has yet to be developed for use in more complex environments like a busy city street.
When the technology becomes available, TTC will weigh the pros and cons of introducing driverless vehicles to its fleet. Potential benefits include cost savings, increased schedule reliability, stress reduction for operators and fewer collisions. Disadvantages are “expensive upfront costs, customer service challenges, and the possibility of cyber attacks against the transit system.” There’s also the nagging problem of our snowy winters-driverless vehicles have yet to perform well in inclement weather conditions.
Pros and cons notwithstanding, it can happen here. And sooner than you’d think, according to Spurr’s article: “It’s certainly on the horizon,” Ross McKenzie, managing director for the Waterloo Centre of Automotive Research at the University of Waterloo, tells Spurr. “Is it going to happen 20 years from now? … No, it won’t take that long.”