Automated (self-driving) vehicles

Last updated on April 4, 2024

Automated vehicles (also known as self-driving vehicles) are motor vehicles with highly automated systems capable of performing certain driverless tasks, such as steering, accelerating, braking, and detecting and avoiding obstacles. These vehicles are generally considered to have self-driving capabilities that do not require driver monitoring.

Levels of automated vehicles

The Society of Automative Engineers (SAE) classifies vehicle automation with a 0 to 5-level system. Level 0 has no automation, while Levels 1 and 2 have automated driver-assistance features (e.g. lane change assist or automatic braking). Levels 3 to 5 have highly automated self-driving capabilities, which do not require a person to be driving when automated features are engaged.

What’s legal in B.C.?

The Motor Vehicle Act prohibits a person from driving, or permitting the driving of, a Level 3, 4 or 5 automated vehicle. This means that highly automated self-driving vehicles cannot yet be driven on public roads in B.C., nor can highly automated self-driving features be used, unless enabled through a pilot project under the Motor Vehicle Act or by regulation in the future.

​It is an offence to drive or permit the driving of Level 3, 4, or 5 automated vehicles, unless allowed by regulation.

Penalties can range from $368 and 3 driver penalty points up to a maximum of $2,000 and 6 months of imprisonment.

When will automated vehicles be allowed on B.C. roads?

Highly automated self-driving vehicles remain a new and emerging transportation technology. Further testing and policy development are necessary before Level 3 or higher automated vehicles are considered safe and can begin to be allowed for public use on B.C. roads.