News / Ottawa

Transportation minister pledges $50M to update rules for self-driving cars

Marc Garneau says the government wants rules for the autonomous vehicle industry that keep people safe— while leaving room for innovation.

The government wants update rules for autonomous vehicles, but it also wants the industry to grow.

Torstar File

The government wants update rules for autonomous vehicles, but it also wants the industry to grow.

The federal government wants better safety regulations for cars that drive themselves— but doesn't want to stall their development in Canada.

Transportation Minister Marc Garneau confirmed $50 million in funding to update regulations for autonomous vehicles during a speech to the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.

Garneau said the government wants rules for the industry that keep people safe behind their computer-driven wheels, but its also wants room for innovation.   

“It’s to try to ensure safety when autonomous vehicles arrive, but at the same time not to bury the developers in regulations,” he said.

While provincial governments dictate the rules of the road, Transport Canada is responsible for actually clearing vehicles as street-legal.

Garneau said he wants government to be “less stringent during the development phase of some of these autonomous technologies in order to encourage these technologies.”

Barrie Kirk, co-founder of the Canadian Automated Vehicle Centre for Excellence, said he’s glad the minister wants to reduce red tape, but Canada has a long way to go.

“We are lagging behind the other numbers of the G7 in a number of areas,” he said.

Kirk points to the United Kingdom, where staff from the regulatory agencies and the economic and innovation agencies have been pulled together in a new group to work on the problem.  

He said Canada has the two groups in their own silos.

“It’s one foot on the gas pedal and one foot on the brake pedal and that’s not the best way to go forward.”

He said provincial governments also have update their rules and the federal government should be encouraging them to work together on this.

“What we don’t want to end up with is a patchwork quilt. We need to have consistency.”

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