(Reuters) - Self-driving cars, including those backed in part by the phonemaker BlackBerry Ltd, have been approved for testing on Canadian public roads in the country's first such program, the government for the province of Ontario said on Monday.
Automated vehicles from the University of Waterloo and the Erwin Hymer Group auto manufacturer have also been approved for testing, Ontario said in a statement.
Ontario, home to nearly all of Canada's auto industry, launched the program on Jan. 1, but had no applicants in the first half of the year. The province's auto sector has struggled as investment shifted to less expensive jurisdictions, and the government has sought to attract higher-paying research and development work.
Canada is a late-comer compared with parts of the United States, where Alphabet Inc's subsidiary Google has been testing self-driving prototypes since 2009.
BlackBerry's QNX software development subsidiary and the University of Waterloo will work with Ford Motor Co's Lincoln cars, while Erwin Hymer Group will test one of Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz vans, according to Ontario.
It was not immediately clear when the cars will hit the roads. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation said it was up to the applicants when they want to begin their tests.
(Reporting by Ethan Lou in Calgary, Alberta; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Jonathan Oatis)