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, many experts believe that traffic safety could improve, there may be greater access to mobility for those who do not or cannot drive, and efficiencies in the transportation network could be realized through improved traffic management.
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. There are a total of six levels of vehicle automation starting from Level 0: No Automation to Level 5: Full Automation (or Autonomous) 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. Partially automated vehicles are providing assistance to drivers in the form of cruise control, automated braking, and other safety features included in newer vehicles. Highly automated vehicles – often referred to as driverless or autonomous cars – are being tested on public roads in Ontario, including Toronto, through a permit from the Ministry of Transportation. These more advanced vehicles have the potential to reshape our transportation system, impacting road safety, traffic congestion, mobility equity, and environmental health.
Automated Vehicles: An Introduction was prepared in partnership with Ryerson University’s School of Urban and Regional Planning (SURP) to provide additional background information on automated vehicles in a Toronto context.
The City of Toronto does not currently have any regulations pertaining specifically to automated vehicles. Highly automated vehicles are regulated by Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation (MTO). The Ministry has launched a revamped Automated Vehicle Pilot Program as of January 1, 2019, under the Highway Traffic Act.