Canada retains its 12th place ranking in KPMG’s latest AV readiness index, which compares 30 countries on the basis of policy, infrastructure, consumer acceptance, technology and innovation
Canada has earned mixed results in KPMG International’s newly released 2020 Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index, which evaluates the preparedness of 30 countries and jurisdictions worldwide to integrate autonomous vehicles into daily and industrial life.
Topping this year’s list is Singapore, followed by the 2019 leader the Netherlands, with Norway, the United States, and Sweden rounding out the top five.
Canada’s AV readiness score increased in this year’s assessment, but it continues to rank 12th overall, unchanged from 2019. This was due to two factors: first, 16 other countries among the 25 ranked in last year’s index also improved and, secondly, one of five countries added in 2020, Denmark, scored higher.
Canada ranked seventh in KPMG’s 2018 AV readiness ranking.
High ratings in key areas
The index evaluates each region using 28 distinct metrics under four categories: policy and legislation, technology and innovation, infrastructure, and consumer acceptance.
The index gives Canada among the highest ratings for government-funded AV pilots as well as industry partnerships, citing the government of Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) as an essential example of effective collaboration between industry and government.
Another such government-funded program designed to propel Canada towards AV adoption is Infrastructure Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge, which in 2019 awarded Montreal a $50-million prize towards a city plan which includes the eventual use of AVs to improve public transport and access to food.
An additional key factor driving Canada towards widespread AV deployment is its expertise in automotive manufacturing and technology. Canada’s automotive industry employs 125,000 people and assembles more than two million cars per year; there is also an abundance of artificial intelligence expertise in cities such as Toronto.
“Canada is the world-leading hub of AI,” says Colin Earp, national transport leader and global infratech chair of KPMG in Canada. “There is a talent capability in AI, decision telematics and lidar at a density found nowhere else in the world.”
“All the conditions should be right for Canada to be forging ahead in this area,” says Earp.
Staying the course
The fact that Canada didn’t move up the rankings in 2020 indicates more action is needed from both policymakers and business leaders to ensure further progress towards AV deployment.
According to Peter Hatges, partner and the national automotive sector leader at KPMG in Canada, Canadian policymakers should “continue to drive the industry forward to ensure our specialized workforce isn’t lured away by other countries.”
“We believe there’s an opportunity for municipalities to work more closely with industry to help the transition from pilots to scaling up,” he says. “As well, there’s a need for greater education to build public trust about the benefits of smart mobility, including safety. We need to demystify AV technology.”
The global disruption currently posed by COVID-19 has also in some cases put a pause on AV pilot programs and investments. As Hatges points out, however, COVID provides yet another example of the flexible potential of autonomous transport.
“Driverless vehicles are playing a role in various countries in helping to fight the coronavirus by minimizing human-to-human contact,” says Hatges. Elsewhere, “crowded public transit could be partially relieved by on-demand, autonomous minibuses to promote social distancing, while AVs for shipping can meet the demand for contactless delivery.”
In addition to its national rankings, the index highlights five cities that are poised to lead internationally in the deployment of AVs. Those include Detroit, which the report notes “has been able to use AVs to help fuel the economic resurgence of the city,” as well as Beijing, Helsinki, Pittsburgh and Seoul.
The full national rankings are as follows:
- The Netherlands
- United States
- South Korea
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- New Zealand
- Czech Republic