British Columbia bans Level 3 and higher autonomous vehicles

British Columbia has introduced a new regulation that bans the use of autonomous vehicles on the province’s roads.

The ban includes Level 3, Level 4, and Level 5 autonomous vehicles, but not Level 2, which Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) and Autopilot systems are categorized as.

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has developed a classification system for autonomous vehicles, ranging from Level 0 (no automation) to Level 5 (full automation). Levels 3 to 5 represent vehicles capable of complete driving automation under certain conditions, without the need for driver intervention.

As April 5, 2024, the Motor Vehicle Act in BC bans the operation of Level 3, 4, and 5 self-driving vehicles on public roads unless authorized by the province. The ban even extends to driving a vehicle capable of autonomous driving at these levels without the system engaged.

Penalties range from a fine of $320 and 3 driver penalty points, up to a maximum fine of $2,000 and 6 months of prison.

Currently the only publicly available Level 3 system comes from Mercedes-Benz. Drive Pilot has only been approved for use in California and Nevada. The system only works in heavy traffic and only up to a maximum speed of 40mph (65km/h).

BMW also has their own Level 3 driving automation system. Personal Pilot L3 is slated for release this year, and will only be available on the 7-Series and only in Germany. Similar to Mercedes-Benz, BMW’s system will be restricted to a maximum speed of 37 mph (60km/h), and the system will only engage on separated highways.

The ban, introduced through Order in Council 147/2024, was billed as one of the ways the province is protecting vulnerable road users.

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