As of June, not even a single company had signed on to Canada’s autonomous vehicle test program. That finally changed, and just days ago the Autonomoose rolled onto Ontario roads for its first real-world test.
Yes, Autonomoose. What else would you expect the country that gave the world Dan Aykroyd, Leslie Nielsen, Mike Myers, John Candy, and Phil Hartman to call the first driverless car to hit its streets?
It’s actually just one of three autonomous vehicles now being tested, a Lincoln MKZ hybrid that’s part of the WATCar Project at the University of Waterloo’s Centre for Automotive Research. The other MKZ, a popular choice with companies that are developing autonomous vehicle technology right now, belongs to Blackberry’s QNX division.
The third comes from the RV makers at Erwin Hymer group, who are working on a driverless Mercedes Sprinter van. Yes, there will finally be a camper that can drive itself on the roads, lady in California that thought engaging cruise control meant you could let go of the wheel and walk around. It would cost about $190,000 to put it on the road right now, but, you know… it’s just the first prototype.
Ontario was the first Canadian province to develop a set of regulations for autonomous vehicles. That not surprising, given the concentration of tech talent in the Kitchener-Waterloo area and the fact that Ontario is home to the bulk of Canada’s automotive industry.
But Ontario is still late to the game, and there’s a lot of catching up to do. According to the CBC, the province will pump $3 million into pilot programs in the coming years. Barrie Kirk of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence called it “a big and important step forward,” but noted “[Canada needs] a lot more deals like this.”