Pre-Assignments - CDIO Academy 2017

In order to facilitate strong discussion during the Academy, participants are expected to complete some pre-assignments before coming to Calgary and working in a team.

These assignments will be in the form of online blog posts. These blog posts must be public, as Academy organizers and other participants will need to be able to read them and provide feedback. Wordpress ( or Blogger ( are free tools that can help you set up a blog.

Assignments should be completed individually, as team formation will take place in Calgary in June.

These pre-assignments will have a mix of research activities and teamwork assessments to ensure that participants are well-prepared for the Academy design camp. Assignments will be posted weekly on this page, along with due dates. If you have registered for the Academy later and missed some assignments, please catch up as quickly as possible. All assignments should be completed before attending the Academy design camp in Calgary.

For any questions about the pre-assignments, please send an email to cdioacademy2017(at)

Assignment Details and Due Dates

#1 – Introduction – Due: May 7th

This assignment will provide an introduction to the world of autonomous vehicles. Please answer the following questions in a 300-400 word blog post:

        1.  SAE International has a formal classification system for autonomous vehicles, ranging from level 0 (not automated) to level 5 (fully automated). Briefly describe each of the levels.

        2.  Use the internet to find at least two examples of autonomous vehicles that already exist. Which companies/universities/groups are they from? What autonomous behaviour do they exhibit (i.e., can parallel park itself, can drive itself)? How have they been tested?

        3.  Consider the SAE classifications from the question 1. At which level would each of the vehicles discussed in question 2 be? Provide rationale for your decisions.

        4.  Please state at least 3 possible applications for autonomous vehicles, and why they would be beneficial for those applications.

#2 – Technological – Due: May 14th

Autonomous vehicles are packed with technology. There is a wide variety of sensing and control technology used, including cameras, lidar, GPS, infrared, and others. Please complete the following tasks in a blog post of 300-400 words:

        1.  Search the internet and other sources and list the different types of technology that may be found in autonomous vehicles (include at least one more option than those listed above). Describe each technology in 1-2 sentences, and include at least one web link.

         2.  Select one type of technology and look at it in greater detail. How is it currently being used? What are its benefits and drawbacks? What is its future potential? Don’t forget to include references to any sources you may have used.

#3 – Ethical – Due: May 21st

When an autonomous vehicle crashes or has an accident of some sort – who is responsible, and to what degree? Consider the following story:

Alice buys an autonomous vehicle from Bob, who sells them. The autonomous vehicle has different settings, some more aggressive (where the autonomous vehicle drives faster and brakes harder), and some less. Alice sets the autonomous vehicle to its most aggressive setting. One night on a dark and wet road, Alice hits a pedestrian, Carlos, who was jaywalking. Carlos is badly hurt.

How should we divide up the responsibility for Carlos’ injury? Here are some immediate suspects: Alice, since she was the owner of the autonomous vehicle, and was using it at the time of the accident; Carlos, who was in the road when he shouldn’t have been; Bob, who sold Alice a car that had the aggressive setting(s).

Perhaps there are some other possible responsible parties as well. For example, we might consider the state (the government) that allows the autonomous vehicle on the roads, to be partly responsible. Or we might think that the autonomous vehicle manufacturers are partly responsible, in that they made the autonomous vehicle with the aggressive settings. Or we might think that the autonomous vehicle itself is partly responsible, since it is somewhat autonomous. Or we might think that the accident was a freak occurrence that no-one is responsible for.

In a blog post of 300-400 words, consider who the parties responsible for Carlos’ injuries are, and why they are so responsible. Given your assessment, what advice might you give to the manufacturers, owners or regulators of AVs to help address these types of issues?

Listed below are some links that may help you answer these questions:

#4 – Personality and Teamwork – Due: May 28th

This assignment is a personality assessment from ITP Metrics. It will ask a series of questions, and then will provide information about your personality traits, and how these personality traits relate to your working in a team.

You should receive an email with the link to your assessment on Sunday May 21st. If you do not, please email Complete the assessment, post a summary on your blog, and bring a copy of the full report to Calgary.

#5 – Law – Due: June 5th

There are two options for this assignment: a basic assignment, or a more advanced assignment for students who wish to dig deeper into the legal issues surrounding autonomous vehicles. You only need to complete one of the basic or advanced assignments.

Basic Assignment

This assignment explores the legal dimensions involving autonomous vehicles and it is closely related to the ethics assignment. Law has typically lagged behind rapidly evolving technology, where technological advances have outpaced the legal framework that should govern them.

Please create a 300-400 word blog post on the legal issues involving autonomous vehicles. Briefly describe the legal status of autonomous vehicles and survey the challenges facing the legal framework and regulation of autonomous vehicles and issues with liability. Explore one legal topic in detail. Provide weblinks to support your blog post.  

The articles below are a very useful start to explore the legal issues involving autonomous vehicles.

Advanced Assignment

In a blog post of 300-400 words, assume the facts in the autonomous vehicle crash scenario for the Ethical question in Assignment #3 (May 21):

Alice buys an autonomous vehicle from Bob, who sells them. The autonomous vehicle has different settings, some more aggressive (where the autonomous vehicle drives faster and brakes harder), and some less. Alice sets the autonomous vehicle to its most aggressive setting. One night on a dark and wet road, Alice hits a pedestrian, Carlos, who was jaywalking. Carlos is badly hurt.

Consider the following questions and answer some of them. Consult a variety of sources, including the ones suggested below.

Suppose that Carlos sues Alice, Bob, the AV manufacturer, the AV and the regulator of AVs for damages. What is the legal cause of action and what are its elements? [Hint: start your research by looking at the private law of negligence as stated in Cooper: .]  For the reference, focus on reviewing “Section IV. Analysis” (especially paragraphs 21 – 26 and 30 – 33) and “Section V. Application of the Test” (especially paragraphs 43 and 50 – 55). Find and consult other sources.

Can an AV be sued? Why or why not? Assume that the AVs were legally manufactured and met all regulatory requirements.

A more difficult question is whether there are any good reasons for treating the AV manufacturer and the regulator differently from Alice? Think about that in light of the regulator in Cooper and the manufacturer in Donoghue - discussed in Cooper (Hint: paragraph 43 is a good starting point). To dig deeper on the issuing of suing the regulator, take a look at Ernst: For the reference, scroll down to “I. Introduction” and read paragraphs 1 – 9, 42 – 47, and 50 - 55.

If you assume that all defendants were at fault to some degree, how would you apportion the degree of fault amongst them? Can or should Alice be able to sue the state for 100% of the (money) damages because it has deep pockets? Why or why not?  (Hint: look up "joint and several liability.")

If you are the judge, can you base your judgement on your ethical reasoning in whole or in part? If so, why? If not, why base your judgment on the cases cited above? How does your legal reasoning differ, if at all, from your ethical reasoning in this case? (For these legal theory questions, you might begin by looking at: and the discussion in Donoghue: respecting negligence in particular.)

#6 – Social – Due: June 11th

Like any new technology, autonomous vehicles are going to experience some pushback from the public. This may be because individuals feel uninformed, or they might simply enjoy being in control of their own vehicle!

For this pre-assignment, you will interview 10 people to understand their view on autonomous vehicles. Please ask the following questions:

Do you drive a vehicle? Why or why not?
Would you be interested in having an autonomous vehicle? Why or why not?
[Create at least one of your own questions]

Summarize your results on your blog. Include at least one visual method, such as a graph.

List of Participant Blogs ​




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