Self-driving cars are already quite common in the United States, and companies in markets like China are also getting in on the fun. In these areas, entities like Google and Baidu are either given local laws as guidelines for testing, or take advantage of the lack of laws addressing autonomous or driverless cars in order to test their vehicles, both on test tracks and on public roads. Thus far, though, despite Google eyeing the local scene, Canada has thus far remained cold on the issue of self-driving cars being tested on public roads. Three different entities have been approved to change that by getting their vehicles out onto the public streets of Ontario.
Reportedly the first to put some robot-directed rubber on Canada's roads, the three lucky players are BlackBerry, The University of Waterloo’s Centre for Automotive Research, and the Erwin Hymer Group. All three have gained the approval of Ontario's local government, allowing them to test cars on public streets in fully autonomous mode, so long as there are working controls and an alert human involved, in case things happen to go awry during an AI-driven test drive. According to the rules of the agreement, these three entities are allowed to test their fully autonomous vehicles anywhere they please; any road throughout Ontario is their stomping ground. Thanks to Ontario's high local traffic and the fact that the province has four distinct and full seasons that include all of the usual inclement weather patterns, these self-driving cars should learn a good amount in a short time.
Each of the three entities is employing a different strategy in building up the AI for a self-driving vehicle, and thus their vehicles will all perform slightly differently. The University of Waterloo's self-driving Lincoln MKZ, for instance, is being constantly worked on, fine-turned, and fed new data by a team of nine researchers from the University. The area is pretty close to the tech haven of Waterloo, and a number of prominent automakers, making it quite the desirable place for a self-driving car company to develop their craft. The initial trials are set to begin early on in 2017, and should put Ontario on the map when it comes to autonomous vehicles.