AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES: Ontario, Canada, to become autonomous vehicle testing ground

Oct. 16, 2015

Autonomous cars will be allowed on public roads in the province as of Jan. 1, 2016

Ontario, Canada, has announced it will allow the autonomous vehicle testing on its public roads starting Jan. 1, 2016, according to the province's transportation minister Steven Del Duca.

The new pilot program does come with restrictions, however. Self-driving cars will be allowed on any public road at any time of day, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Company, but participants are limited to vehicle manufacturers, technology companies, academic or research institutions, or companies that have made parts specifically for automated vehicles. Furthermore, the vehicles must have a licensed human being behind the wheel, and the companies need to hold at least $5 million in liability insurance in order to be on the road.

In the U.S., Florida, California, Michigan, Tennessee and Nevada all have some degree of AV testing taking place on their roadways; and in Texas, Google recently arranged to test its car in specific pockets of state roads. Michigan is the only cold-weather state that companies can test in, and a big part of advancing autonomous vehicle technology is studying how the cars operate in all kinds of weather, which means the Ontario announcement offers these companies another option for subjecting self-driving cars to elements such as heavy snow, high winds and sub-zero temperatures, not to mention an entirely new infrastructure system.