All the bad drivers can breathe a sigh of relief; the driverless car is about to hit Ontario streets.
Starting on January 1, companies will be allowed to test driverless cars, as the province becomes the first in Canada to step up to the plate on such an endeavour.
Come the new year, drivers in Ontario could find themselves sharing the roads with the driverless cars in a 10-year pilot project that can be modified or extended by Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation (MTO) as new technology is developed.
And we have a feeling that that technology will develop quite quickly.
According to experts, the project will not only serve the technological innovation of the initiative, but also the province’s economy, road safety concerns, and ability to attract top researchers.
Certain parts of the U.S. and Europe have already begun similar initiatives.
In Ontario, the driverless cars will be allowed on any public road – whether it’s the 401 or a quiet, residential street – at any time during the day or night. But you can’t be just any driver off the street to take part; participants are limited to companies that originally manufactured the vehicle, tech companies, academic or research institutions, and manufacturers of parts for automated vehicles, all of which must apply to take part in the pilot project.
You won’t find yourself doing any double takes at the lack of a driver either. Each vehicle is required to contain a human with a valid driver’s license behind the wheel. You know, someone who’s capable of taking over should things not go exactly as planned.
Oh, and they also must have at least $5 million in liability insurance.
Either way, the move is a pretty big deal for the province and the country in general when it comes to technology and innovation.
Of course, we can’t expect the endeavor to come without its challenges – in everything from adapting new technologies to driving in the unpredictable Canadian winter. But it’s the varied Ontario driving conditions – everything from potholes to winter weather – that makes it an optimal testing ground for companies to try out their driverless cars. After all, if they’re safe under Ontario conditions, that pretty much makes them safe anywhere, right?
The good news for us regular Canadians is that the local testing will hopefully mean that if the autonomous vehicles become commercially available, they’ll arrive in Canada quicker thanks to the pilot project.
And for those of us who are admittedly ‘challenged’ behind the wheel, this is a very good thing.