Originally posted on the MTO website.

Ontario’s Automated Vehicle Pilot Program

January 1, 2019
By: Ministry of Transportation Ontario

In 2016, Ontario launched a ten-year pilot program to allow the testing of automated vehicles on Ontario’s roads. In response to advances in Automated vehicle (AV) technology, the program will be updated on January 1, 2019 to allow for the testing and sale of more innovative technologies. The following changes take effect on January 1st, 2019:

  1. Automated vehicles equipped with SAE Level 3 technology that are available for public purchase in Canada can be driven on Ontario roads. These vehicles will no longer be restricted to registered pilot participants. Vehicles with aftermarket SAE Level 3 technology (technology that has been added to a vehicle after sale, not by an Original Equipment Manufacturer) will remain restricted to the pilot program and will not be permitted for public use.
  2. A human driver is required at all times to take back the driving task when alerted to do so by the vehicle. Drivers will need to be in full care and control of vehicles with SAE Level 3 technology and all existing laws (such as distracted, careless and impaired driving laws) will continue to apply to drivers of these vehicles. Drivers are responsible for the safe operation of these vehicles at all times.
  3. The testing of driverless AVs is permitted on Ontario roads, under strict conditions.

A new application is required for new applicants to the pilot program, as well as for previously approved pilot program participants that wish to modify their testing plans (e.g., driverless testing). As always, Ontario’s expectation remains that all manufacturers and pilot participants continue to make the safety of all road users a top priority.

Program Eligibility

Eligible participants include:

  • Auto manufacturers defined within the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Canada);
  • Technology companies;
  • Academic and research institutions;
  • Manufacturers of parts, systems, equipment or components for automated driving systems.

The pilot participant must also be the owner of the vehicle.

For the purposes of Ontario’s testing pilot, “automated vehicle” means: a passenger or commercial motor vehicle or a street car, excluding a motorcycle or motor-assisted bicycle, with an automated driving system that operates at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International driving automation Level 3, 4 or 5.

To participate in Ontario’s AV pilot program, please fill out the AV pilot application form. The online application form will be reviewed by the Ministry of Transportation for approval. If approved, a signed copy of the form will be sent back to you. A copy of the signed application form will need to be kept in all vehicles participating in the pilot program at all times, and for driverless testing, a copy of the signed application must also be retained by the remote operator.

Please note that the application for the Cooperative Truck Platooning Pilot program is separate. For details on the Program and Eligibility Requirements for the Cooperative Truck Platooning Pilot, please see: Cooperative Truck Platooning Pilot Program.

Program Requirements

The pilot is restricted to testing purposes only, and has strict requirements for participants. Some of the requirements include:

  • Only vehicles manufactured and/or equipped by approved applicants are permitted.
  • The driver must remain in the driver’s seat of the vehicle at all times and monitor the vehicle’s operation, unless approved for driverless testing. For driverless testing, full human oversight of the vehicle’s functionality is required while it is operating on a public roadway. The overseer can be a passenger onboard the vehicle or someone monitoring the vehicle remotely, and must be capable of intervening during the vehicle’s operation to bring it to a safe stop if necessary.
  • All current Highway Traffic Act rules of the road and penalties will apply to the operation of AVs and subsequent responsibilities of the driver/vehicle owner, unless specifically exempted in the pilot regulation.
  • Pilot applicants will accept liability where there is an at-fault collision caused by the technology. All participating vehicles must be insured under a contract of automobile insurance with an insurance company licensed to operate in Ontario to the limit stipulated in the pilot regulation: $5 million liability coverage or, if the vehicle has a seating capacity of eight or more passengers, $8 million.
  • Standard police collision reporting rules apply to AVs in the pilot. Participants must also provide a detailed report to the Ministry of Transportation within 10 days of any collisions involving the AV.
  • Pilot participants must also alert local authorities (e.g. municipalities) prior to testing, and indicate where and when testing will occur. If testing on a provincial highway, pilot participants must obtain prior approval from the Ministry of Transportation.
  • Certain conditions may prevent driverless testing in bad weather

For a full list of requirements, please see the program application form.


AVs are vehicles designed to operate without a driver having to continually control steering, acceleration or braking. Advanced control systems and technology track the vehicle’s position and monitor the driving environment. AVs have the potential to improve road safety, traffic flow, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create economic opportunities for Ontarians.

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International has developed a universal classification system to define automation levels for motor vehicles:

Level 0 – No Automation: No automated features.

Level 1 – Driver Assistance: Intelligent features add layer of safety and comfort. A human driver is required for all critical functions.

Level 2 – Partial Automation: At least two automated tasks are managed by the vehicle, but the driver must remain engaged with the driving task.

Level 3 – Conditional Automation: The vehicle becomes a co-pilot. The vehicle manages most safety-critical driving functions but the driver must be ready to take control of the vehicle at all times.

Level 4 – High Automation: The vehicle is capable of performing all driving functions under certain conditions. The driver may have the option to control the vehicle.

Level 5 – Full Automation: Vehicle is capable of being completely driverless. Full-time automated driving in all conditions without need for a human driver.

For questions or more information:

Safety Policy and Education Branch
Ministry of Transportation of Ontario
87 Sir William Hearst Avenue, room 212
Toronto, Ontario, M3M 0B4
(416) 235-3585

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *