Ontario Will Allow Road Tests of Autonomous Cars
18 October 2015 - Automotive News
Ontario will become the first Canadian province to allow automated vehicles to be tested on its roads, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation said in a statement.
The province will allow companies to road-test driverless or self-driving vehicles and related technologies beginning Jan. 1. About 100 companies and institutions in Ontario are involved in the development of such vehicles and technologies, according to the province.
“Today, Ontario is making its claim in the global marketplace by taking the next steps in automated vehicle innovation,” Steven Del Duca, Ontario minister of transportation, said in the statement. “The automated vehicle pilot will ensure that the province’s roads remain safe without creating burdens that stifle investment and innovation in Ontario’s dynamic business environment.”
Ontario joins U.S. states such as Nevada, California, Virginia and Michigan in allowing autonomous car testing on some or all of their respective roads.
The autonomous cars being tested on Ontario roads must comply with guidelines passed by the province last year. Among other rules, all automated vehicles must be equipped to allow the driver to control the car manually. The vehicles also must obey speed limits and other traffic regulations and may be operated only by drivers approved by the province.
The announcement from Canada’s most populous province comes as automakers and technology companies ramp up investments in autonomous vehicle development. For example, Toyota Motor Corp. said last week it plans to sell autonomous vehicles in Japan by 2020, and Google Inc. has said it plans to introduce a self-driving car by the same year.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers projects that autonomous vehicles will account for as much as 75% of vehicles on the road by 2040. Self-driving vehicles are seen as a way to cut down on accidents and fuel use and increase efficiency, but major legal, ethical and technological hurdles remain to be cleared by developers.
Ontario also announced that it is pledging additional funding for the Ontario Centres of Excellence Connected Vehicle/Automated Vehicle Program, which encourages collaboration between businesses and academic institutions on autonomous vehicles and related technologies. Total funding will rise by $500,000 ($384,408 U.S.) to about $3 million ($2.3 million U.S.).