Ontario will be the first province to test self-driving cars

self driving car

At the University of Waterloo this morning, transportation minister Steven Del Duca announced that Ontario will allow road tests of automated vehicles beginning on January 1st, 2016.

Canadian companies will be able to conduct research and development in the province, with the provincial government supporting opportunities to bring automated vehicles to market. The province is also pledging $500,000 in funding to the Ontario Centres of Excellence Connected Vehicle/Automated Vehicle program, in addition to the $2.45 million in funding recently provided. The announcement means that Ontario joins the likes of Nevada, California, and Michigan, where testing for automated vehicles is already allowed.

“In the world of transportation, Ontario has the opportunity to show leadership on automated technology. Today, Ontario is making its claim in the global marketplace by taking the next steps in automated vehicle innovation,” said Del Duca. “The automated vehicle pilot will ensure that the province’s roads remain safe without creating burdens that stifle investment and innovation in Ontario’s dynamic business environment.”

Besides the fact that it is a hub for startup innovation, reports say that the University of Waterloo was likely chosen as the site of the announcement as the school is home to WAVELab, which works on aerial and ground autonomous vehicles. The city is also the site of Varden Labs, a company focused on creating self-driving golf carts.

“Ontario is a global leader in developing and manufacturing the next generation of vehicles. This new pilot program will build on our success, and help Ontario lead the development of automated and connected car technologies,” said Brad Duguid, minister of economic development, employment and infrastructure. “In this highly competitive global economy, investing in people’s talents and skills to create the next generation of innovative technologies is good for business, and can help lead to the easier movement of goods and services across the province.”

More information on applying for the pilot program will be available in November.

Related: Velocity startup Varden Labs running first self-driving vehicle test in Canada tomorrow

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang

Freelance tech writer. Former BetaKit News Editor.