Canada running to keep up with fast-moving developments in self-driving car technology
Despite emergence of self-driving car, Canada has yet to pass legislation to manage the technology
Calling it a disruptive technology with huge potential, Canada's transport minister says when it comes to self-driving cars, Canada is doing its best to try to keep up with the pace of innovation.
"From a regulatory point of view, we are running hard to keep up with this developing technology. It is absolutely critical that we do it," Marc Garneau told CBC News.
Garneau said the technology behind autonomous buses and vehicles promises to reduce collisions, cut emissions and make road transportation more efficient.
"What we don't want is to slow down this technological development, but at the same time, we have to make sure that our streets remain safe," the minister said.
The best way to do that, according to industry, is to expand pilot projects beyond test facilities.
To date, Ontario is the only Canadian jurisdiction issuing permits to groups that want to pilot autonomous vehicles on public roads. Since November, Ontario's transportation ministry has issued seven pilot approvals.
That pales in comparison to the United States, where 17 states permit testing on streets and highways. In Ann Arbor, Mi., which is one of North America's autonomous vehicle research hubs, Dominos Pizza has started testing people-free pizza delivery.
Sen. Dennis Dawson of Quebec says Canada needs a national regulatory framework to help all levels of government — municipal, provincial and federal — prepare for the future.
"The process of legislation, the process of federal-provincial cooperation is a long one," he told CBC while aboard an autonomous bus on Parliament Hill. "We're going to try to make it as short as possible because, like I said, the technology is much faster than we are."