Autonomous Vehicles Banned in British Columbia

03 May 2024 BY Jean-Sébastien Poudrier

The province of British Columbia has now prohibited the use of autonomous driving within its territory. This new regulation applies to vehicles utilizing level 3 or higher technology. Thus, it does not affect vehicles equipped with adaptive cruise control or lane-keeping assistance systems.


According to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), it is simply not safe to allow autonomous vehicles to operate on the road at this time.


If you violate this new regulation, you could face a fine of $2,000 and even imprisonment for up to 6 months.


Autonomous Driving


Driving technologies are measured on a scale from 0 to 5. At 0, there is no driving assistance technology, and at level 5, we talk about fully autonomous vehicles. At level 1, technologies that help prevent accidents, such as automatic braking, are involved. However, you must still have control of the steering wheel at all times. From level 2 onwards, there is talk of adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance systems, but you still have to control the steering wheel at some point.


Where it becomes problematic is with level 3. Here, you can literally take your hands off the wheel without the vehicle asking you to take back control after a few seconds or in an emergency situation. This allows you to do other tasks or divert your attention elsewhere while your vehicle moves, and this is exactly the kind of behavior that the government of British Columbia wants to avoid.


Level 4 becomes even more concerning since the vehicle can go from point A to point B on its own. This is notably what Tesla has been offering since its latest update. Unfortunately, Tesla owners in the Canadian province will no longer be able to use this feature. As for level 5, we're talking about a vehicle without a steering wheel, literally.


A Matter of Time


The market is constantly evolving, but according to the government of British Columbia, automated driving assistance technologies are advancing too rapidly. There will come a time when our means of transportation will be different, especially in terms of interactions between drivers and pedestrians or cyclists. For now, the latter are still too at risk, and that's why the province has decided to prohibit the use of level 3 or higher autonomous driving technologies.


Jean-Sébastien Poudrier