Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Garneau Talks Self-Driving Cars with Tesla Execs, and Makes Canadian Pitch

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Garneau Talks Self-Driving Cars with Tesla Execs, and Makes Canadian Pitch

Article excerpt

At Tesla, Garneau makes Canadian pitch

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OTTAWA - Under the California sun, Marc Garneau pressed a button to let a car take him for a spin as part of a joy ride that was more business than pleasure.

While much attention this week went to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's trip to Washington and Mexico to save North American free trade talks, the transport minister and two senators quietly travelled to Silicon Valley to meet officials from one of the world's biggest tech companies.

The race to put more self-driving cars on North American roads has meant Garneau is now moving quickly to craft regulations so his government doesn't fall behind the curve, even if the technology may not be fully ready for another 10, 20 or 30 years.

Garneau has already travelled to Waterloo, Ont., as part of that work, but he and his team made the decision that it was important to go to the epicentre of the technological change at Tesla's facility near San Francisco.

In a few weeks, the transport minister will go to Detroit, the heart of the American automotive industry, to see what the big three automakers are doing on their end as companies race to develop self-driving systems.

On Thursday, a day after Garneau's test drive at Tesla, BlackBerry QNX tested an autonomous car just outside Ottawa in what was billed as the first on-street test of an autonomous vehicle in Canada.

On the day Garneau met researchers from Stanford University and executives from Tesla and Proterra, which makes electric buses, California's government released revised regulations that could pave the way for self-driving cars to be on the state's roads next year.

Florida legalized fully autonomous cars for road use last year. Nevada has done the same and is looking to connect companies with local researchers with an eye towards economic development. Other jurisdictions are looking at similar measures to lure tech companies away from Silicon Valley, which made Garneau's trip part trade mission. …

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