Automated and connected vehicles: FAQs

Learn answers to the most commonly asked questions about automated and connected vehicles in Canada.

When will fully automated vehicles be available?

Many vehicles today are equipped with low-level automation features, such as lane keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control. Higher automation technologies are rapidly evolving, and will be gradually brought into Canada's road transportation network. But it could be many years before fully automated vehicles (vehicles that can operate without a driver in all environments) are widely used by Canadians in their daily lives. These technologies still need a lot of research and testing before they are proven reliable and safe to use on Canada's roads.

Before higher automation technologies are made available on the Canadian market, manufacturers will need to ensure that they meet a number of safety considerations. Manufacturers are encouraged to capture each of these considerations in a safety assessment report they submit to Transport Canada.

For more information, refer to Automated and connected vehicle safety: what you need to know.

What is the Government of Canada's role in testing and deploying automated and connected vehicles?

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring Canadian roads are safe, including when automated and connected vehicles are on the roads. Transport Canada – as the lead organization for the Government of Canada to promote motor vehicle safety – is proactively engaging with stakeholders on these emerging technologies to ensure that automated and connected vehicles are tested and deployed safely. We are doing this by developing policy and non-regulatory tools specific to automated and connected vehicles, and conducting and providing funding for research and testing of these emerging technologies.

Automated and connected vehicle technologies are evolving rapidly, making it difficult to regulate these technologies at this point in time. However, we continue to promote the safety aspects of these vehicles. We do this by engaging in domestic and international forums and implementing a variety of non-regulatory and policy tools, such as:

  • A safety framework, which outlines a clear policy vision for how Transport Canada will work with provinces and territories, industry and others to support the safe testing and deployment of automated and connected vehicles on public roads

  • A safety assessment, to help developers review the safety of new automated vehicles they intend to manufacture, import, operate, and/or sell in Canada

  • Guidelines for organizations conducting automated and connected vehicle trials in Canada

  • Jurisdictional guidelines for the safe testing and deployment of highly automated vehicles

  • The Automated and Connected Vehicles Policy Framework for Canada, which guides federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions to ensure they align, where possible, on policy and legal issues related to automated and connected vehicles

Learn more about the tools and resources available to promote automated and connected vehicle safety.

How do connected vehicles communicate?

Connected vehicles communicate with their surroundings using a number of wireless technologies such as dedicated short-range communication (DRSC), 5G cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or satellite.

Here are some connected vehicle features you may already be familiar with:

  • GPS navigation
  • roadside assistance
  • automatic crash notification
  • real-time weather updates

Some connected vehicle features continuously communicate their exact position, size, direction of travel and speed. They transmit and receive information through wireless technologies to interact with things such as:

  • other vehicles and road users
  • personal electronic devices (such as mobile phones)
  • road infrastructure (for example, traffic lights)
  • Internet-based applications and other entities

Why do we need to test automated vehicles on public roads? Is this safe?

For us to enjoy the anticipated benefits of highly automated vehicles, we need to test them in real-world situations including our diverse Canadian climates. A number of trials around the world, including in Canada, are testing automated vehicle technologies. We are working closely with industry and provinces and territories that allow testing on public roads so these trials are done in a safe and responsible manner, based on international best practices.

Learn more about how these technologies are being tested in Canada

Will connected vehicle technologies affect personal privacy?

Connected vehicles collect and use personal information in a variety of ways. On-board navigation systems (GPS) may record a vehicle's location over time. When drivers or passengers sync their smartphones to a connected vehicle (for example, to use hands-free calling), the system may keep a record of calls, texts and other communications. Some connected vehicles even offer Wi-Fi hotspots that may record internet activity.

Collection and storage of personal information by connected vehicles technologies must comply with relevant privacy laws, including:

  • the federal privacy law for the private sector, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)
  • similar provincial laws
  • public sector privacy laws at the federal or provincial levels

Should Canadians be concerned about cyber security threats in automated and connected vehicles?

Cyber security of automated and connected vehicles is an emerging, complex issue. In Canada, automotive cyber security is a shared priority among all levels of government and industry. We recognize the need to protect digital information, and the services and systems supporting these new technologies, while also encouraging innovation and economic growth and prosperity.

Transport Canada is working with our Canadian and international partners to better understand cyber security issues related to automated and connected vehicles. We hope to use this knowledge to make informed decisions, support our stakeholders and guard against threats. Our efforts are in line with the Government of Canada's broader cyber security objectives, as outlined in our National Cyber Security Strategy.

Read more about Canada's cyber security approach

How will insurance be managed if the vehicles are automated?

Policymakers and insurance industry stakeholders in Canada are actively looking at how to adapt insurance to emerging automated vehicle technologies. In Canada, insurance is governed by provincial and territorial governments, and there are a variety of public and private models in place. As insurance issues evolve, we will continue to follow international best practices and work with provinces and territories.

I am a manufacturer who wants an exemption for an automated or connected vehicle. How can I get one?

Transport Canada supports you in developing and using innovative technologies, including automated and connected vehicles. When the standards we have in place are not compatible with newly manufactured or imported vehicles planned for permanent use in Canada, you may request an exemption.

Section 9 of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act allows companies to be exempt from conforming to a standard for a set period of time.

In order to be considered for an exemption, you need to provide:

  • all information and documentation set out in sections 13 and 14 of the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations
  • a risk assessment, showing that the exemption would not substantially lessen the model's overall safety

We will evaluate your request as quickly as possible. If we grant you an exemption, it will specify:

  • the model of vehicle you may manufacture or import under the exemption
  • a period of time for which this applies
  • any other conditions

To be fair and transparent, we make all exemptions public. If you get an exemption, you are still responsible for all requirements in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and its regulations. This applies throughout the lifecycle of the vehicle. It includes requirements for notices of defect and non-compliance.

If you have any questions related to the exemption process specific to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, please contact ComplianceEngineeringandVehicleTesting@tc.gc.ca or 1-800-333-0371.

Under section 156 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, you may also ask for an exemption from federal vehicle and engine emission standards. Section 44 of the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations specifies what you need to include in your application.

We may grant you the exemption, for a specified period, if we find that conforming to these standards would:

  • cause your company substantial financial hardship
  • prevent you from developing new features for safety, emission monitoring or emission control, or
  • prevent you from developing new kinds of vehicles, engines or vehicle or engine systems or components

If you have questions about Canada's vehicle and engine emission regulations, or you want to apply for this exemption, please contact ec.infovehiculeetmoteur-vehicleandengineinfo.ec@canada.ca.

What is "spectrum"? How does it affect automated and connected vehicles?

Automated and connected vehicles use sensors and other equipment to survey their surroundings and/or communicate with other vehicles or infrastructure. They do this by sending and receiving messages through airwaves across the electromagnetic spectrum, more generally referred to as "spectrum."

The radio spectrum is a limited natural resource. It is regulated to ensure wireless messages from satellites, phones, vehicles, radios and other devices flow efficiently.

Transcript: What is Spectrum?

Visual

Text: What is Spectrum?

Spectrum is the airwaves along which wireless signals travel. Text: What is Spectrum?

An antenna tower, circles represent signals

Ever since the first radio transmissions, it has been essential for communications.

Two parallel "roads" each take up half of the screen, with hills and trees on top.

Single sine wave appears

A dirt road, a horse on the road

Multiple sine waves of different colours and widths

To help understand spectrum...

Vertical road appears with cars on one lane

Different devices using spectrum are coming the other direction on the road (radios, satellites, TVs, smartphones)

... imagine a road network: thousands of roads, each one a different size, with all
kinds of users...

View changes to aerial view of an intersection

Devices, such as radios, cell phones, laptops and tablets are in the lanes instead of cars

Evolving to devices on multi-lane roads

It can get pretty chaotic...

Zoom out to see multiple roads and intersections

Devices get stuck in traffic jams and turn red

... so rules and regulations are essential. Our Government manages the spectrum so that Canadians have the best wireless experience.

Road signs, smiling police officer, traffic lights, with buildings in background

Because spectrum, just like a road network, has limited space. The more we use it, the more congested it gets.

Multi-lane roads appear, but there is more traffic and another traffic jam

That's where the Communications Research Centre comes in…

Text: Communications Research Centre

To understand how spectrum is used today...

CRC truck on a road with monitoring dish on top, buildings in the back

Traffic (devices) appear on road in front of truck

To find innovative ways to use it even better...

Traffic on raised road

To explore what new spectrum can be used in the future...
... and to help Canada be a global leader in managing this scarce natural resource.

Futuristic roads – flying traffic in the sky above other roads

Communications Research Centre – finding what is possible and what works

CRC and Innovation Science and Economic Development logos

Canada wordmark

In Canada, the 5.9 gigahertz band of radio frequency:

  • has been allocated for mobile applications, and
  • is designated for short-range communications systems (DSRC)

Find out more about spectrum.

For more information about applying for radio or spectrum licences, and about Canada's telecommunications policies, regulations and standards, see Spectrum management and telecommunications.

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