Ontario is the First Province to Welcome Driverless Car Testing
Ontario is the first province in Canada to remove restrictions that will allow for testing driverless vehicles on provincial roads and highways. The pilot program, which will go into effect on January 1, 2016, was announced at the University of Waterloo by Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, Brad Duguid, and Minister of Transportation, Steven Del Duca. The new program recognizes the movement in the industry towards self-driving cars becoming the norm for transportation.
“Our roads are going to be very different 10 years from now, 20 years from now, 40 years from now,” Duguid said. “The change is going to be a lot faster than people thought it would be.”
The announcement also included increased funding, now nearly $3 million, for the Ontario Centres of Excellence Connected Vehicle/Automated Vehicle Program. The program brings academic institutions and businesses together to promote and encourage innovative transportation technology.
Ontario joins a number of US states, including Florida, California and Virginia, who have already opened the roads to testing. Michigan is also exploring the option. Testing and research is also underway in Europe and China.
Minister of Transportation, Steven Del Duca, pointed to the opportunity this pilot creates for the province.
“In the world of transportation, Ontario has the opportunity to show leadership on automated technology. Today, Ontario is making its claim in the global marketplace by taking the next steps in automated vehicle innovation.”
This announcement makes perfect sense for the province. Ontario is the heart of the automotive industry in Canada. The top five automotive companies have significant investment and manufacturing facilities in Ontario. It's also the hub for manufacturing automotive parts. In addition, there are more than 100 Ontario-based companies working on driverless technology. The pilot and funding will help companies, like TrustPoint Innovation, by making it easier to continue with research, development and testing of our products in our own backyard.
The pilot program, which is expected to last for five years, will maintain safety as a top priority. While the goal is to eventually use any Ontario roads for testing, the pilot will take a phased approach to opening the roads. Drivers will also have to be licensed and follow the rules of the road. Vehicles will need to be equipped with an override system that will allow the driver to take over for safety reasons.
This is a welcome move for research and development to continue in Ontario. By opening the road, it opens the door to innovation in Ontario.