Driverless cars to get test drive in Manitoba
Province drafting legislation that could allow testing of autonomous vehicles by this fall
The province is working on legislation to pave the way for testing driverless vehicles on Manitoba provincial highways, perhaps as soon as the fall.
With the the first autonomous vehicles heading to Canadian car lots later this year, Manitoba Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler met with his counterparts from across the country Monday to prepare.
He says he endorsed a report "agreeing to develop a strategy to facilitate their testing and overall integration on public roads."
Schuler said it's time to start embracing the coming technology.
"It's coming very quickly and certainly we want to be on the forefront of this, we want to allow for it, so for instance maybe want to do a test run from Calgary to Toronto. We want to be part of that," Schuler said.
While each province must have its own legislative and regulatory framework in place to allow for testing autonomous vehicles, Schuler said the federal government has to create national and international guidelines as well.
Schuler said there are still major unknowns as the technology for driverless vehicles advances.
"The point where everybody gets hung up on is responsibility. If a driverless vehicle injures somebody or somebody dies in an accident and there was an autonomous vehicle, who's responsible in that vehicle?"
Manitoba's infrastructure minister said the other unknown is the vehicles themselves.
"Nobody's too sure what the final products are going to look like. So we are all having these conversations and it is time we allow some testing to take place so everybody can have a look at it and say, 'OK,' that's what it's going to look like," Schuler said.
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The stakes are high for Manitoba's trucking industry.
According to the Manitoba Trucking Association, the sector employs over 28,000 people in the province and contributes more than $2 billion to the provincial economy.
Schuler said he's aware the impact the new technology could have on trucking, but he says Manitoba has to adapt and get on board with the changes.
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"The market is going to change and what it will change to will be incredibly dynamic. I'm not too sure people will lose their jobs as much as their jobs are going to change," Schuler said.
He said autonomous vehicles are coming fast and he wants to Manitoba to embrace them.