Driverless cars are officially allowed on Ontario roads.
Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek has announced that, as of January 1, those who participated in the province’s automated vehicle pilot program can test driverless cars on public roadways.
Previously, the province required someone sitting in the driver’s seat.
However, they will face “strict conditions” that will ensure tests are conducted in safe and controlled environments. These conditions include having either a passenger in the vehicle or a remote operator monitoring the vehicle.
Additionally, vehicle signage requirements must be met, and local authorities must be alerted, according to the provincial government.
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The province will also allow cars with higher levels of autonomation to be driven on Ontario roads. This includes cars that are equipped with Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International Level 3 technology, which manage most safety-critical driving functions but the driver must be ready to take control of the vehicle at all times.
The pilot program participants can also now test connected “platooning” technology, which is when large trucks are equipped with smart technology that essentially allows them to operate as a single unit.
This would allow these vehicles to communicate with and travel closely together as a group, which the government says could save fuel, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve road safety.
Ontario was the first jurisdiction in Canada to allow on-road testing of automated vehicles when the 10-year pilot project launched in 2016.