Ontario kicks off pilot program to test automated vehicles on Ontario roads

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Ontario is finally kicking off it’s new pilot program to allow for the testing of automated vehicles on Ontario roads.

Automated vehicles are driverless or self-driving vehicles that are capable of detecting the surrounding environment using artificial intelligence, sensors and global positioning system coordinates. Automated and connected vehicle technologies have the potential to help improve fuel efficiency as well as reduce traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions and driver distraction.

The Canadian province greenlit autonomous vehicle testing on its public roads on January 1st this year, but it has taken just under a year for any companies to actually take part.

Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca announced the program’s first three participants Monday, saying they will be working with different levels of automation.

“We are working towards full automation,” 

“I think everyone here can see a world in which that will one day be the reality, but the Ministry of Transportation’s primary responsibility, in addition to trying to enable positive outcomes with this kind of technology, is also road safety.”

The University of Waterloo’s Centre for Automotive Research will test a Lincoln MKZ, auto manufacturer the Erwin Hymer Group will test a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van and QNX, a software subsidiary of BlackBerry, will test a 2017 Lincoln.

Del Duca added,

“…the project gives Ontario the opportunity to be a world leader in automated technology.”

“Frankly, there’s excitement in every corner of the province about the fact that we are not only embracing this technology, but in the Canadian context we’re leading on it,”

“I think that the possibilities are limitless at this point.”

About the pilot:

  • The pilot is restricted to testing purposes only;
  • The pilot will run for 10 years and include interim evaluations;
  • Only vehicles manufactured and equipped by approved applicants are permitted;
  • The driver must remain in the driver’s seat of the vehicle at all times and monitor the vehicle’s operation;
  • The driver must hold a full class licence for the type of vehicle being operated;
  • Eligible participants must have insurance of at least $5,000,000;
  • All current Highway Traffic Act rules of the road and penalties will apply to the driver/vehicle owner; and,
  • Vehicles must comply with SAE Standard J3016 and any requirements of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Canada) that apply to automated driving systems for the vehicle’s year of manufacture.

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