The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications

Senators glimpse future of driving at University of Alberta

September 22, 2016

Ottawa – Senators visited the University of Alberta’s Centre for Smart Transportation in Edmonton on Tuesday, September 20, 2016 to learn about connected vehicles.

Members of the Senate Committee on Transport and Communications got a firsthand look at how connected technology will drastically change how Canadians get around.

Researchers at the Centre for Smart Transportation are at the forefront of innovation with their research on connected vehicle technology. The technology enables vehicles and roadside infrastructure to wirelessly communicate with each other about basic information like traffic and weather conditions — as well as about potentially life-saving information like proximity to dangerous, collision-prone areas.

Dr. Tony Qiu, associate professor at the university’s civil and engineering department and a leading authority on connected technology, took senators on an Edmonton city bus outfitted with prototype equipment. A large display showed countdown times for red and green lights, and the software issued audio warnings when the bus exceeded the speed limit or followed a test car too closely.

The committee heard the technology has widespread implications for city planning. It will make driving safer and make more efficient use of existing road space. Installing the necessary infrastructure can also be done at a minimal cost, particularly when compared to alternative methods of easing congestion like road widening and new construction.

Researchers have already installed some of the technology on three major Edmonton arteries, giving the city state-of-the-art testing facilities that should attract interest from top researchers and car manufacturers.

It was the committee’s first look at connected vehicle technology; senators will begin studying its implications within the next month after concluding a detailed investigation into crude oil transport.

The Senate intends to release a report in March 2017.

Quick Facts

  • The Centre for Smart Transportation is leading development of the Edmonton component of the ACTIVE-AURORA Connected Vehicle Test Bed, the first of its kind in Canada. The City of Edmonton, the Alberta and federal governments, and the Universities of Alberta and British Columbia have provided support for this project.
  • On September 12, 2016, the City of Edmonton released its SmartTravel app, which applies some connected vehicle principles by providing real-time traffic data and verbal guidance to drivers who have installed it.


“This technology is coming quickly. It comes with the promise of faster commutes, fewer collisions and smarter planning. At the same time, there are legitimate privacy concerns that cannot be overlooked. It is essential that we understand the implications of this transformative technology before it takes root.”

- Senator Michael MacDonald, Deputy Chair of the committee.

“There is no question that connected vehicle technology will be of great use to Canadians, and probably in ways none of us can foresee. That is precisely why our committee must study this emerging technology. We need to understand how it can help us, and at what cost. I look forward to learning more about this issue.”

- Senator Terry Mercer, member of the committee.

“The University of Alberta gives a national and international voice to innovation in our province. We are honoured that members of the Senate of Canada experienced Canada’s first connected test beds at the University of Alberta as part of their research on the potential impacts of connected vehicles.”

- David Turpin, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Alberta.

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For more information, please contact:

Tony Spears
Chief, Writer and Media Relations
Senate of Canada