Ontario to welcome autonomous vehicle testing

Published: October 13, 2015

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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The Ontarian government is readying itself for the dawn of autonomous vehicles by becoming the first Canadian province to allow these cars to be tested on public roads. The government’s first tentative steps into the world of self-driving vehicles after auto insurance companies recently said liability for autonomous vehicles could fall on manufacturers.

Self-driving vehicles are deep into development and some companies say that their entirely autonomous cars will be available in six years, while before that vehicles will become ever more self-reliant with each passing year. A source speaking to the Globe and Mail revealed that an announcement on the matter is likely to be made this week, either Tuesday or Wednesday.

The result would be autonomous vehicles on Ontario’s roads for the first time, all be it in a tested capacity, although they will be interacting with every day drivers and vehicles. There is certainly a lot of money to be made and the self-driving industry is quickly becoming one that is worth tens of billions of dollars.

Just about every major car manufacturer is at the very least exploring the idea of autonomous vehicles, while most are very far along in development, including some tech giants like Tesla and Google. With plenty of money flowing in, Ontario and the government certainly want a slice of the cash pie, with companies willing to pay regions that allow testing.

Most companies involved in autonomous vehicles say that their products are entirely safe, with Google claiming its vehicles have never been involved in an accident. Using various sensors and computers, driverless cars can change lanes, read other traffic behavior, and accelerate/decelerate automatically. The biggest concerns are in fact other drivers, and not the autonomous vehicles themselves, which is why testing in Ontario is most likely to take place on secondary roads and in unpopulated areas.

Ontario has already discussed self-driving vehicles in the past and set out some regulations for their use within the province. In 2014 the government said that any autonomous vehicles in the region must be occupied by an expert in autonomous vehicles positioned in the driver’s seat. That driver needs to be able to assume full control of the vehicle at any time, so some kind of kill switch for the autonomous part of the vehicle needs to be in place.

Needless to say, any autonomous vehicle testing in Ontario will mean the cars will be subject to the normal traffic laws of the Highway Traffic Act.

SOURCE: Globe and Mail