Driverless cars not to be tested on Vancouver streets, says province

The City of Vancouver is beginning to look at the potential impact of driverless cars, but the B.C. government says its plans can't include actually putting them on the road.

Coun. Geoff Meggs said 75 per cent of cars could be driverless by 2040

In this May 13, 2015, file photo, Google's new self-driving prototype car is presented during a demonstration at the Google campus in Mountain View, Calif. (Tony Avelar/Associated Press)

The City of Vancouver is beginning to look at the potential impact of driverless cars, but the B.C. government says its plans can't include actually putting them on the road.

Coun. Geoff Meggs says he has asked city staff to examine the issue. He claims 75 per cent of cars on the road could be driverless by 2040, and understanding how they operate on Vancouver streets is crucial. 

"It would be great to see the province step forward in a more comprehensive way because I think all the municipalities will be asking questions about it," he said. 

Meggs says no plans have actually been made to test the cars in Vancouver, but he points out jurisdictions in Europe are already doing so.

The B.C. government agrees driverless cars could appear across the province, and it's keeping a close watch on the issue. 

However, Transportation Minister Todd Stone says B.C. has no plans to launch any pilots, and he warns that cities don't have free reign to test the cars out. 

"I don't believe the City of Vancouver has regulatory authority over the operation of motor vehicles, that's a provincial authority, and safety standards is a federal role," Stone said.

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau recently asked the Senate's transportation and communications committee to launch a study of the regulatory, policy and technical issues that need to be addressed so that Canada can safely and smoothly make the transition to self-driving vehicles.

With files from Richard Zussman

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.