Will self-driving trucks ever be allowed on Quebec roads?
The future is at our doorstep! The majority of car manufacturers and some major companies have committed to designing and putting vehicles on the road with automated driving systems that allow the driver to give up full control of the vehicle. In our neighbours to the south, the tests that have been done appear to have been successful. But what about here? Will self-driving trucks soon be on our roads? Let’s find out.
Distinguishing between self-driving, automated and connected trucks
The trucking industry is constantly evolving. Before getting to the heart of the matter, let’s do a little terminology housekeeping, since words used to describe vehicles that can be driven without the direct or indirect involvement of a driver are often confused. Automated, connected and self-driving vehicle, how can you tell the difference?
An automated vehicle can be driven normally or without the involvement of a driver under certain conditions only. A connected vehicle can communicate with the driver, other vehicles and surrounding infrastructure through the use of different technologies. A self-driving vehicle, on the other hand, can drive without supervision or human intervention. This is the type of vehicle that we are interested in for the purposes of this article.
Self-driving trucks in Quebec: an overview of the current situation
In 2018, amendments were made to the Highway Safety Code to allow for the implementation of pilot projects to test various new means of transportation and control their use. Self-driving trucks are one.
However, it should be noted that in Quebec, testing self-driving vehicles on public roads is not open to all vehicles. Only those authorized as part of a pilot project are authorized.
Who authorizes pilot projects?
The Minister of Transport, Sustainable Mobility and Electrification of Transport is the only person who can authorize the testing of new means of transport using technological innovations. Normally, the maximum duration of a pilot project is limited to 5 years, except in some cases when it can be extended for an additional 2 years.
Self-driving trucks: the revolution is coming
It is therefore currently prohibited to put a self-driving vehicle on a public road if the operation is not initiated as part of a pilot project, unless the vehicle has a level of driving automation level 3, i.e. an automated driving system controlling all aspects of dynamic driving also known as conditional automation.
However, the various trials currently underway in Canada, the United States and elsewhere in the world, suggest that the success of these pilot projects will soon revolutionize the transportation industry, if only in terms of labour cost savings and productivity gains. Are you ready to experience it?