The introduction of automation into commercial and passenger vehicles is an exciting development in urban transportation. By assisting the human component in driving with vehicle automation, conventional wisdom is that traffic safety will improve, there will be greater access to mobility for those who do not or cannot drive, and efficiencies in the transportation network will be realized through improved traffic management.

The City’s Transportation Services Division is currently implementing its 3-Year Automated Vehicles Work Plan which will direct the City’s staff to further investigate the role automated vehicles will play within the transportation system. This Work Plan will help the City’s various divisions prepare for automated vehicles and prepare for the changes that may arise with the deployment of these vehicles in Toronto.

Automated Vehicles (AVs) are vehicles in which at least some aspects of a safety-critical control function (e.g., steering, throttle, or braking) occur without direct driver input. An autonomous vehicle is a vehicle that can take over all safety-critical functions. There are a total of six levels of vehicle automation starting from Level 0: No Automation to Level 5: Full Automation as defined by the Society of Automated Engineers (SAE) International.

There are many vehicles that are currently operating at a Level 2: Partial Automation on Toronto’s roadways. Such vehicles can control up to two critical-safety functions such as throttle/braking and steering, however the driver is responsible at all times for the safe operation of the vehicle.  Automakers are currently working to introduce vehicles with higher capabilities in the near future.

  1. The City of Toronto currently does not have any regulations pertaining to automated vehicles.
  2. The Province’s Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has established an automated vehicles testing pilot program as of January 1, 2016. Details on this program are available at:

2016.PW13.14 – Preparing the City of Toronto for Autonomous Vehicles

May 2, 2016 – Requested the General Manager, Transportation Services, to report back to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee no later than the fourth quarter of 2016 with recommendations on how the City of Toronto might prepare for the introduction of automated and autonomous vehicles. The report should outline the following:

  1. Specific actions planned by Transportation Services to prepare for automated and autonomous vehicles over the next two years;
  2. An overview of potential implications that could be experienced by other divisions as a result of vehicle automation, and where possible, options for mitigating impacts; and
  3. An overview of the public’s potential acceptance of automated and autonomous vehicles, and how it compares to other jurisdictions.

In June 2016, the City of Toronto formed a staff interdivisional working group on automated vehicles to collaborate the efforts of the various divisions on preparing the City for the arrival of automated vehicles.  Divisions participating include:

  • City Clerk’s Office
  • City Manager’s Office
  • City Planning
  • Corporate Finance
  • Economic Development & Culture
  • Environment & Energy
  • Fleet Services
  • Fire Services
  • Information & Technology
  • Legal Services
  • Municipal Licensing & Standards
  • Public Health
  • Revenue Services
  • Solid Waste Management Services
  • Toronto Building
  • Toronto Employment & Social Services
  • Toronto Office of Partnerships
  • Toronto Parking Authority
  • Toronto Police Service
  • Toronto Transit Commission
  • Transportation Services

Disclaimer: The City of Toronto does not have an official policy or position on automated/autonomous vehicles.