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Canadian Auto Innovation Summit Praises Bilateral Trade Relationship Between the U.S. and Canada, Explores Autonomous Vehicle Safety

“This bilateral region is in fact the epicenter of next-generation mobility and autonomous vehicle technology.”

That is the sentiment Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah conveyed to kick off the Canadian Auto Innovation Summit at Aloft Detroit on March 22.

According to Canadian Consul General Douglas George, the inaugural summit was meant to share the R&D and innovation emerging from Canada and the region.

“This event, much like the automotive industry in Canada and Michigan, is grounded in collaboration and partnerships,” George said. “Our economies are deeply connected and we know that this relationship has allowed both of our homes to thrive.”

Summit panels tackled everything from electrification and battery technology to autonomous/connected vehicle and artificial intelligence. In a panel on connected and autonomous vehicles moderated by MICHauto Executive Director Glenn Stevens, panelists focused on the recent death of a pedestrian during Uber’s autonomous vehicle test drive in Arizona. While all panelists agreed the tragedy warrants speculation from the public on the testing and safety of automated vehicles, each panelist agreed this is an opportunity to improve this technology and gain public trust.

“Uber needs to share the knowledge and what they learned so others can learn from their mistake,” said Nikolas Stewart, autonomous vehicle program manager for the University of Waterloo. “The information about safety measures and processes should be used to keep people educated on this technology. There is only so much that can be done in a lab and it’s imperative that AV testing is done where the unpredictable can happen.”

Panelists also included Ziad Kobti from the University of Windsor, Azzedine Boukerche from the University of Ottawa, and Eric Miller from the University of Toronto.

Stevens praised the diversity of industry components represented at the summit.

“We have to protect, retain and grow the industry across both borders,” Stevens said. “We like to think this is the greatest platform for diversity in technology.”