About connected and automated vehicles

Connected and automated vehicles have the potential to transform how people and goods get around while creating opportunities for Ontario’s auto industry to continue to grow and create jobs.

Connected vehicles

Connected vehicles (CVs) are vehicles that can share information with other devices or systems such as:

  • other vehicles
  • smart devices
  • trip planning applications
  • emergency services
  • advanced infrastructure, like traffic lights and smart signs

Automakers have used connected technologies in vehicles for many years to help make driving more safe, efficient and convenient.

Unlike automated vehicles, connected vehicle technology does not control the vehicle’s operation – this technology is designed to receive and share information for drivers.

Automated vehicles

Automated vehicles (AVs), also known as driverless vehicles or autonomous vehicles, may have:

  • sensors
  • cameras
  • complex computer programs (including artificial intelligence)
  • global positioning systems (GPS)

Automated vehicles use the information gathered by these tools to make driving decisions such as braking, steering or accelerating.

Certain types of automated vehicles are allowed on Ontario’s roads already, and others with higher levels of automation are being tested in our Automated Vehicle Pilot Program.

Not all automated vehicles are connected vehicles. Some are being designed to operate completely independently, using sensors and cameras. Some vehicles may have both automated vehicle and connected vehicle technologies.

Six levels of automation

Six levels of automation differentiate between the types of driving tasks vehicles can perform. These levels were created by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and are now the standard used by industry and governments around the world.

Level 0, 1 and 2

These vehicles have some driver assistance technologies, also known as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). The system may warn you of danger, control your braking or accelerating and control your steering.

Examples of driver assistance technologies include safety features like blind spot warnings and emergency braking systems, or other settings like lane centering and adaptive speed control. These can help you drive safely, but you must always be in full control of your vehicle.

Vehicles with automation Levels 0 to 2 are not considered automated vehicles.

Level 3

These vehicles have automated driving systems (ADS) that work in certain environments such as highways. You still need to pay attention to the road and be ready to take control of the vehicle when you are using this technology.

Level 3 vehicles are allowed in Ontario, with drivers responsible for their safe operation at all times.

Level 4 and 5

Level 4 (highly automated) and level 5 (fully automated) vehicles use highly sophisticated automated driving systems to make driving decisions. A human driver is not needed. In case of emergency, these vehicles must be able to pull themselves over to a safe location.

With Level 4 vehicles, the vehicle can perform all driving tasks under most conditions with exceptions such as in severe weather conditions that cause low visibility.

With Level 5 vehicles, the vehicle can perform all driving tasks in all conditions without the need for any human intervention.

Level 4 and Level 5 vehicles are allowed to test in Ontario, under strict conditions.

Using driver assistance technologies

When used safely, driver assistance technologies can make our roads safer for everyone.

Newer vehicles have driver support features that can support your steering, braking and/or acceleration. These features are called advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and can help you avoid a collision or reduce its impact. Drivers of cars with driver assistance features like lane-keeping assist are responsible for the safe operation of their vehicles at all times. Drivers must always remain in control of their vehicle.

Advanced driver assistance systems technologies include:

  • adaptive cruise control
  • collision avoidance systems
  • auto-park systems

Manufacturers and other organizations use different names for advanced driver assistance systems technology. Understanding how the advanced driver assistance systems features in your vehicle work is critical to safe driving. Your vehicle owner’s manual will explain the different advanced driver assistance systems features available and how to use them.

The same driving laws apply to you when using driver assistance technologies. Even if your vehicle is equipped with driver assistance technology, always keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.

You are responsible for any traffic incidents or collisions, not the advanced driver assistance systems features.

Safety tips when using driver assistance technologies

  • Find the right information. To understand the advanced driver assistance systems features of your vehicle, refer to the:
    • vehicle owner’s manual
    • dealer or seller from where the vehicle was purchased
    • rental company from where the vehicle was rented
    • manufacturer of the vehicle
  • Learn and understand how all the advanced driver assistance systems features work. Take the time to learn and familiarize yourself with your vehicle’s advanced driver assistance systems features. Knowing what your vehicle can and cannot do is critical.
  • Know the limits of the advanced driver assistance system. Driver assistance technologies still require you to stay in control of your vehicle at all times. Advanced driver assistance systems may only work under certain conditions like when lanes are visible, traffic lights are working properly and road markings are clear.

Learn more about the functions and limitations of advanced driver assistance systems technologies.

You can also review Ontario’s driver handbook, which goes over the safe use of your vehicle’s technologies.

Preparing Ontario for connected and automated vehicles

Embracing new technologies is part of our plan to improve Ontario’s transportation network, grow our economy and drive innovation.

We are also investing in the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network to accelerate the development of next generation electric, connected and autonomousautomated vehicle and mobility technologies and advance Ontario’s role as manufacturing hub of Canada.

To prepare for the arrival of connected and automated vehicles, we are focusing on five key areas:

  1. Updating legislation and regulations

    The current rules of the road assume that all vehicles have someone behind the wheel. We may update these laws to help people and businesses adopt connected and automated vehicles and create new laws, if needed, to maintain the safety of our roads.

  2. Planning for the future

    Our long-term transportation plans for the southwest, north and Greater Golden Horseshoe anticipate the arrival of connected and automated vehicles and consider the necessary infrastructure to support their roll-out. The plans consider how connected and automated vehicle technologies can help people get around more easily.

  3. Improving physical and digital infrastructure

    Integrating technology into our infrastructure may help us improve transportation. We are already getting Ontario’s highways ready for connected and automated vehicles.

  4. Supporting people and industry

    Ontario is a leader in connected and automated vehicle development, testing and deployment, with over 300 companies developing these technologies in the province. Many colleges and universities offer auto-related training as well.

    To support innovation, we have pilot programs for businesses and academic institutions to develop and test their technologies.

  5. Working with our partners

    Connected and automated vehicles will create unique challenges, which is why we are working together with all levels of government and industry to identify the potential impacts of connected and automated vehicle technology. Together, we are focused on:

    • preparing the workforce for the impact of connected and automated vehicle technologies
    • updating our infrastructure to support connected and automated vehicle communications
    • protecting your privacy and consumer rights
    • increasing mobility for people facing social exclusion and accessibility barriers

Pilot programs

Ontario has programs testing connected and automated technologies:


Safer roads

Connected and automated vehicle technologies could make driving safer by reducing human error or by informing drivers of obstacles on the road. For example, a driver could be warned that there is a cyclist or pothole ahead.

Efficient travel

In the future, we may be able to share road construction, detours and parking information with drivers through their vehicle systems, making getting around much easier. Connected technologies in connected and automated vehicles may assist in managing traffic to reduce overall road congestion.

More options for getting around

Automated vehicles could be used to connect rural and remote communities as well as provide new services for communities with few transportation options. In the future, these vehicles could also allow non-drivers, including seniors and persons with disabilities to travel more independently.

Better ways to move goods

Trucks can connect with one another using connected vehicles technology and drive closely together or “platoon.” This will allow trucking companies to use less fuel and move goods more efficiently, creating cost savings along the entire supply chain. Ontario’s Cooperative Truck Platooning Pilot Program allows trucking companies to test these connected technologies.

Cleaner transportation

Connected and automated vehicles that use clean or alternative fuels, such as electric and hydrogen powertrains, can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Getting highways ready

We are adapting our highways for new technologies to prepare for the future.

Ontario highways feature an intelligent transportation system (ITS) designed to improve safety and operations across the province. Intelligent transportation system technologies can help support transportation innovations like connected and automated vehicles by providing additional information about the environment and changing traffic conditions. Ontario already has many smart features to help us keep highways moving safely, such as:

  • cameras to spot vehicle incidents and send help to remove anything blocking the lanes, such as a stalled vehicle
  • sensors to provide fast and accurate information on traffic delays and where they happen
  • message signs with updated travel times

Highway testing and upgrades

We are testing innovative intelligent transportation system technologies to see how they can help traffic move more efficiently and make our highways safer. Some of the technologies we are testing include:

  • real-time traffic movement sensors that could give drivers accurate and reliable travel time estimates
  • highway signs and sensors that could provide up-to-date safety warnings about weather-related dangers
  • video systems that could automatically notify us about collisions or other incidents and speed up our response
  • pavement markings to improve their quality, visibility and ability to support automation to ensure that they can be seen by the cameras on board an automated vehicle
  • upgrading traffic signal controllers so connected vehicles can communicate with them (also known as vehicle-to-infrastructure or V2I technology)