While the debate continues over how long it will be before self driving vehicle technology will become available to the masses, Ontario has moved one step closer to making it a reality.
In a press conference on January 22 at the Sedra Student Design Centre at the University of Waterloo, the province’s Transportation Minister, Jeff Yurek, announced that changes have been made to Ontario’s automated vehicle pilot program to allow vehicles to be tested without a human driver.
The program, which was launched in 2016, has previously allowed autonomous vehicles to be operated on public roads, providing there was a human in the driver’s seat in order to take over the controls should systems falter.
Under the new provisions, vehicles can be tested on public roads with a passenger on board, or with a remote operator monitoring the vehicle. That remote operator must be able to take over control of the vehicle in order to bring it to a stop safely if needed.
The new rules also allow for the operation of Level 3 automated vehicles in this province. A Level 3 vehicle is one which uses many of the systems available on the market today, such as lane assist and adaptive cruise control, to drive by itself, with a human driver on board to take control when needed. Some Level 3 vehicles, most notably the Audi A8, are already available to consumers in other markets.
Super Cruise, the first application of hands-free driving in the business
Understanding Automation Levels
Automated vehicles are categorized by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International into a universal classification system.
Level 0 – No Automation: No automated features.
Level 1 – Driver Assistance: Intelligent features add layer of safety and comfort. A human driver is required for all critical functions.
Level 2 – Partial Automation: At least two automated tasks are managed by the vehicle, but the driver must remain engaged with the driving task.
Level 3 – Conditional Automation: The vehicle becomes a co-pilot. The vehicle manages most safety-critical driving functions but the driver must be ready to take control of the vehicle at all times.
Level 4 – High Automation: The vehicle is capable of performing all driving functions under certain conditions. The driver may have the option to control the vehicle.
Level 5 – Full Automation: Vehicle is capable of being completely driverless. Full-time automated driving in all conditions without need for a human driver.
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