About automated vehicles

An automated vehicle (AV) is a passenger motor vehicle, commercial motor vehicle or a streetcar with an automated driving system that operates at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) driving automation Level 3, 4 or 5.

Learn more about connected and automated vehicle technologies.

About the pilot

Ontario began a ten-year pilot program in 2016 to allow the testing of automated vehicles (AVs) on Ontario’s roads under strict conditions, including a requirement to have a driver for safety reasons.

The Automated Vehicle Pilot Program was updated in 2019 in response to developments in automated vehicle technology.

The changes allowed for the testing of:

Under Ontario’s automated vehicles pilot regulation, automated motorcycles or automated motor-assisted bicycles are not considered automated vehicles and are not allowed on roads.

How to participate

To participate in Ontario’s Automated Vehicle Pilot Program:

  1. Download and complete the AV Pilot application form.
  2. Submit the completed form by email, fax or mail to:

Email: AVPilot@Ontario.ca

Ministry of Transportation
Safety Program Development Branch
87 Sir William Hearst Avenue, Room 212
Toronto, Ontario
M3M 0B4

Fax: 416-235-5129

New applicants and previously approved pilot participants that want to change their testing plan (such as wanting to test under driverless conditions) must complete a new application form. Download the AV Pilot application guide for more details.

If your application is approved by the Ministry of Transportation, it will be signed and sent back to you. A copy of the signed form must always be kept in participating vehicles. For driverless testing, a copy of the signed form must also be kept by the remote operator.

Program eligibility

Eligible organizations are automated vehicle owners who are either the manufacturer of the automated vehicle or converter (the entity that converted the motor vehicle into an automated vehicle). This includes:

  • auto manufacturers defined within the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Canada)
  • technology companies
  • academic and research institutions
  • manufacturers of parts, systems, equipment or components of automated driving systems

Program conditions

Applicants must:

  • be the owner of the participating automated vehicle
  • provide a list of participating vehicles, their descriptions, and notify us of any changes
  • inform us of their cybersecurity plan
  • provide an annual report with testing information
  • report a collision within 10 days of the incident
  • inform us before starting, stopping, or restarting testing
  • provide updated information as soon as possible when information in the approved application form changes
  • make sure the testing of automated vehicles will be done safely and follows the rules in the Highway Traffic Act (HTA)
  • have enough automobile insurance coverage with an insurance company licensed to operate in Ontario. The minimum insurance required is:
    • $5 million liability coverage or
    • $8 million for vehicles with a seating capacity of eight or more passengers

Additional conditions applicable to all participants include:

  • all rules of the road and penalties apply, except where specifically exempted
  • drivers of participating automated vehicles must:
    • have the right driver’s licence for the type of vehicle being tested
    • always stay seated in the driver’s seat
    • make sure the automated vehicle is working properly and safely
    • be able to take over control when required
  • the participating automated vehicles must:
    • be capable of being driven safely in Ontario
    • be in good working order
    • meet all participation conditions
    • have a copy of the signed and approved application form inside
    • not be used for driver licensing road tests

Driverless testing conditions

Driverless testing means there is no driver present in the vehicle’s driver seat. For driverless testing of SAE Level 4 and 5 vehicles, additional conditions apply. For example, the applicant must:

  • declare the technology is safe and effective based on previous testing and may be asked for proof
  • accept full liability
  • inform us of the environment and limits the automated vehicle is designed to work in (also known as its operational design parameter)
  • be able to monitor and control the vehicle if required
  • be able to bring the automated vehicle to a safe stop if necessary and explain how a safe stop will be done
  • place a copy of the signed approval form in a visible place in the automated vehicle and keep a copy with the remote operator
  • provide a “work zone and first responders’ interaction plan” to affected authorities, such as law enforcement and municipalities, that explains how the automated vehicle will interact with emergency responders and construction zones
  • inform affected municipalities where the testing will happen. If the automated vehicle is being tested on a provincial highway, you must get approval from the Ministry of Transportation in advance. The contact information for provincial highway testing is in the AV Pilot application form.
  • have signs on the automated vehicle clearly showing that the vehicle is a driverless automated vehicle being tested. The design and dimension for a self-driving vehicle sign are also included in our AV Pilot application guide.
MTO automated vehicles program sign

To test an automated vehicle that does not meet all requirements of the federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act, you must get an exemption from Transport Canada, the federal organization responsible for vehicle safety standards.

Pilot evaluation

We meet with participants to discuss testing progress twice a year. Participants must also fill out reporting forms annually.

The information we collect is used to:

  • evaluate the use of automated vehicles included in the pilot program
  • research how these vehicles work without (or with limited) actions from the driver
  • compare these vehicles to conventional vehicles
  • make changes to policy based on the data, feedback and research collected

Annual reporting form

The Automated Vehicle Pilot Program’s annual reporting form asks for details including:

  • participant information such as name and contact
  • vehicle information such as its purpose
  • testing details such as testing speeds and road type
  • incident reporting such as where the automated vehicle encountered collisions or disengagements

Additional information for applicants

Vehicle plating

To drive automated vehicles on the road, they must have a special permit or be plated. Manufacturer licence plates (M-Plates) allow motor vehicle or motor vehicle component manufacturers to drive vehicles on road for testing, demonstrations, evaluations, and exhibitions.

Learn more about M-Plates, how to apply and where M-Plates can be purchased.