Uber Testing Self-Driving Vehicles in Toronto

Ride-sharing giant Uber has officially obtained a permit to test a pair of its self-driving vehicles in Ontario, although they won’t necessarily be driver-less.

According to a new report from Metro, Uber has deployed two “self-driving” vehicles on the streets of Toronto in a push to continue researching automotive automation technology.

“Two autonomous vehicles (AVs) operating in manual mode will be driving around the University of Toronto campus and surrounding areas starting Tuesday and continuing for the rest of the week,” reads the report. “‘Manual mode’ means that although the cars have self-driving capability, they will be operated by human drivers.”

The cars, which will be driven by specially-trained operators, aren’t actually available for rides, says Uber spokesperson Susie Heath, as they are being used to conduct mapping tests around the University of Toronto campus.

“We’re excited to advance the work of our Advanced Technologies Group’s Toronto lab,” Heath said. “These cars will be driven manually while conducting mapping. We have also obtained a permit from the province for future development testing.”

The testing comes about a year-and-a-half after Ontario passed legislation that allows on-road testing of autonomous vehicles, provided approved groups follow a list of precautions, including having a human in the driver’s seat at all times.

Ontario has made it clear that it intends to be at the forefront of the slowly-emerging autonomous vehicle market, which Uber, among others, believes will be worth billions of dollars. Additionally, the province cites the potential for safer and more eco-friendly roads, as automated vehicles are not prone to distraction.

Uber’s self-driving cars will be travelling on Toronto streets until the end of this week.