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First self-driving car pilot program launched in Canada

The first self-driving car pilot program in Canada was launched today by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. Tests will begin shortly with researchers and engineers from the University of Waterloo, the Erwin Hymer Group, and BlackBerry QNX.

Remember, on Jan. 1st, 2016, the province became the first in Canada to create a pilot regulatory framework to test self-driving vehicles on its roads, paving the way for companies to research and develop autonomous driving technologies in Ontario.

Today’s announcement also comes a few months after General Motors of Canada detailed plans to hire around 700 engineers to work on self-driving cars at expanded research and development facilities in Oshawa and Markham, Ontario.

“Our pilot has truly given Ontario the opportunity to be a world leader in automated technology,” said Steven Del Duca, Ontario’s Minister of Transportation. “We are delighted that Erwin-Hymer, QNX, and the University of Waterloo will be the first applicants to test their automated vehicles on Ontario’s roads. We look forward to working with them to advance AV innovation in Ontario’s dynamic business environment.”

More specifically, the University of Waterloo's Centre for Automotive Research, through the WATCar Project, will monitor a Lincoln MKZ for performance and test it on-road at different levels of automation. The Erwin Hymer Group will do the same with a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van, while BlackBerry QNX will experiment with a 2017 Lincoln car featuring automated systems.

According to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, autonomous or self-driving cars will account for 75% of all vehicles on the road by 2040. While development has significantly ramped up in the past few years, there is still a long way to go before these machines gain full legal access to our roads, let alone mainstream acceptance.