Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek has officially confirmed that as of January 1st, driverless cars are allowed on Ontario roads, albeit under strict conditions, which include having either a passenger in the vehicle or a remote operator monitoring the vehicle at all times (via CityNews Toronto).
The minister added that participants in Ontario’s automated vehicle pilot program must also alert the local authorities of any driverless car test. None of the pilot program’s nine participants, including BlackBerry’s QNX, Magna, Uber, and the University of Waterloo, are, however, yet using fully driverless ones.
Yurek also noted that pilot program participants can also now test “platooning” technology, which allows vehicles with smart technology to communicate with and closely follow one another to help reduce fuel consumption and improve road safety.
Yurek also announced that members of the public will be able to drive “Level 3” conditionally automated vehicles, which manage most safety-critical driving functions but the driver must be ready to take control of the vehicle at all times.
The use of those vehicles had previously been restricted to participants in the pilot project. The Progressive Conservative government says it isn’t aware of any such vehicles for sale in Canada yet, but once they become available, they will be allowed on Ontario roads.
It must be kept in mind that anyone driving a vehicle with any level of automation is still required to be attentive at all times, and obey all laws.