Driverless cars could be coming soon to Ontario roads
-- Ontario drivers could soon find themselves motoring along the
highway next to a car with no one in the driver's seat.
The province's Liberal government is proposing to change the rules of
its 10-year automated vehicle pilot project to allow for driverless
testing. Currently, the testing of fully autonomous vehicles is only
allowed with a driver behind the wheel, but the government is seeking
public comment on a proposal to scrap that requirement.
"Ontario is well-positioned to be a global leader in the development,
testing and deployment of connected and automated vehicles and is
taking steps to secure that role," Transportation Minister Steven Del
Duca said in a statement.
province was the first jurisdiction in Canada to allow on-road testing
of automated vehicles when the pilot project launched in 2016. There
are currently seven participants, including BlackBerry's QNX, Magna,
Uber and the University of Waterloo. All of the participants have
expressed interest in testing vehicles without drivers, a government
The proposed automated vehicle changes also include allowing members of
the public to drive vehicles that are less than fully automated --
capable of driving automatically in limited scenarios -- once they are
available for purchase.
Under the current pilot project, those vehicles are only allowed on
Ontario roads for testing purposes by approved pilot participants, but
the government wants to change the rules to allow regular drivers to
buy, register and operate those vehicles in the province with no extra
According to the ministry, some industry leaders predict they could go
on the market anywhere from this year all the way to 2040.
For the completely driverless testing, a Highway Traffic Act exemption
would be introduced to make it legal and participants would have to
meet certain conditions, such as having a law enforcement interaction
plan and vehicle communication with a remote operator.
The government said when its original pilot launched that the
requirement of a driver was a safety measure in case a person needed to
take control over an automated vehicle if "an unexpected event occurs."
Tuesday's statement from Del Duca didn't specifically address the
proposed change or safety measures, but a spokesman said the new rules
would ensure road safety while also accommodating innovation.
The proposal also would allow the testing of platooning, which is when
vehicles -- particularly commercial ones -- with smart technology
communicate with and closely follow one another.
"Preliminary research suggests that platooning may lower fuel
consumption, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and help to improve road
safety and efficiency," the government writes in its regulatory
registry posting. "This proposal would more closely align Ontario with
other jurisdictions that currently permit commercial vehicle
platooning, and respond to industry interest."
Ontario is earmarking $80 million over five years to establish the
Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network project to support industry-led
research and development, including a demonstration zone in Stratford.
driverless cars could be coming soon to ontario roads