The self-driving car fever seems to have gripped the planet. From almost every other corporation attempting to create the perfect self-driving system, to countries willing to offer roads for public testing (now that the technology is finally stable) it seems like we won’t have to wait for much longer before we can take our hands off the steering wheels for good. BlackBerry is now joining in on the fun.
Yup, the erstwhile smartphone manufacturer who recently shut down its hardware manufacturing units in favor of licensing devices made by other OEMs, will soon be testing its self-driving cars. The company is one of the three who have received permission for public tests of their self-driving vehicles in Canada — Ontario to be more precise.
BlackBerry, the University of Waterloo’s Centre for Automotive Research and Erwin Hymer Group are the three groups that have received the official nod for taking their autonomous vehicles to the public roads in Ontario. All three have been approved to take part in a pilot licensing program that will allow them to proceed with autonomous testing — with a safety driver behind the wheel of course.
Ontario is the perfect destination for performing these tests. Along with the kind of traffic that would be required to get the wheels rolling, you also get different whether conditions around the year — allowing companies to put self-driving cars through their paces.
The reason behind why Ontario is going ahead with these tests is no great secret. Autonomous vehicles are drastically safer than they were a few years ago — safe enough to allow public tests with a driver behind the wheel. Ontario is hoping to become a viable destination for companies that want to test their cars under real conditions. Considering that self-driving is all about machine learning, which requires exposure to different situations, public entry is inevitable. Its merely a matter of who is willing to take the risk first.
Meanwhile, public testing of self-driving cars on Ontario’s roads is expected to begin in 2017.