If you’re driving along and you pass a car beside you with no-one inside driving, you just might be in Ontario.
The provincial government has changed the rules to allow testing of fully autonomous vehicles, without someone behind the wheel. Testing of vehicles with no-one in the driver’s seat has been done on closed tracks, while some testing has been allowed on public roads but with someone in the driver’s seat just in case.
The common misconception when it comes to automation is that it just happens. Like the Terminator stepping from a crackling energy bubble transported from the future, it just arrives fully intact, ready to go.
Roboticists are quick to point out that reality occurs much more slowly. Automation, instead, happens one small step at a time over the course of many years.
Such is the case with cars, which are on their way to becoming self-driving. But, as per the truism of robotic reality, it’s happening more gradually than some proponents may suggest. Also, the process has been under way for decades.
Researchers at the University of Waterloo reached an important milestone this summer by logging their 100th kilometre on public roads in a self-driving car.
Recorded in an industrial area of Waterloo, it was the culmination of almost two years of work since the research team won approval from the Ontario government to do on-road testing in an autonomous vehicle pilot program.