11/28/2016 04:38 EST

Ontario's Self-Driving Car Pilot Project A Canadian First

Ten-year project aims to make Ontario a "world leader" in automated technology.

WATERLOO, Ont. — Self-driving vehicles are hitting Ontario streets, after the province became the first in Canada to open a pilot project to test the automated vehicles on public roads.

Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca announced the program's first three participants Monday, saying they will be working with different levels of automation.

Ontario transportation minister Steven Del Duca. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

"We are working towards full automation,'' he said.

"I think everyone here can see a world in which that will one day be the reality, but the Ministry of Transportation's primary responsibility, in addition to trying to enable positive outcomes with this kind of technology, is also road safety.''

Under the pilot project, a driver with the appropriate licence must remain in the driver's seat at all times to monitor its operation and must follow the rules of the road.

The University of Waterloo's Centre for Automotive Research will test a Lincoln MKZ, auto manufacturer the Erwin Hymer Group will test a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van and QNX, a software subsidiary of BlackBerry, will test a 2017 Lincoln.

Ford's 2017 Lincoln MKZ at the L.A. Auto Show in Los Angeles, California, United States November 18, 2015. The MKZ is one of the cars slated to be tested as part of Ontario's self-driving car program. (Photo: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson)

The pilot is set to run for 10 years.

Del Duca said the project gives Ontario "the opportunity to be a world leader in automated technology.''

"Frankly, there's excitement in every corner of the province about the fact that we are not only embracing this technology, but in the Canadian context we're leading on it,'' he said. "I think that the possibilities are limitless at this point.''

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