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Canadian self-driving program further slowed by Tesla Autopilot fatality

TechCrunch TechCrunch 7/07/2016 Mark Lelinwalla

The driver death resulting from a Tesla Model S Autopilot crash on May 7 has ramifications that extend well past a federal investigation in the United States.

In fact, government officials from the Canadian province of Ontario told Reuters that the fatal accident has further scrutinized its own autonomous driving technology and that it may have set back the development of its overall self-driving program as a result. Wow.

In comparison to the U.S., Ontario has had some of the most progressive laws on the books for self-driving testing, but has suffered through a lack of applications — and Tesla’s Autopilot fatality certainly won’t help its cause, as the scope of scrutiny on autonomous technology has only gotten wider since the accident.

A spokesperson from Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation told Reuters that its self-driving car program has a 10-year blueprint and has received interest, citing nearly 100 companies and organizations that have already been working on autonomous technology in Ontario as of last year. However, the lack of applications since testing of self-driving cars in Ontario launched this past January coupled with companies opting to test autonomous vehicles in the U.S., spells a rather bleak outlook for the Canadian program.

Google and Honda will not be participating in Ontario’s program and we didn’t immediately get an answer when we posed the same question to George Saratlic, General Motors’ Lead Manager of Product, Brand & Technology Communications in Canada.

Let’s see if Tesla vowing that drivers operating in Autopilot mode remain safer than regular drivers has any positive effects on other companies developing self-driving technology in the U.S., Canada or anywhere else.

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