The shuttle used will be the EZ10 made by French company EasyMile. The shuttle has been named ELA, seats 12 passengers, and has a built-in mobility ramp. It is fully electric and has no steering wheel. It uses 3D mapping and localization data from four sensors and additional video cameras as it steers itself.
It can connect to a 4G network, which allows for remote supervision and data monitoring by both Pacific Western Transportation and researchers at the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary.
The announcement came at an event in Edmonton where the University of Alberta was able to showcase its Active Aurora autonomous work. The facility is working on connected vehicle technology, designed to let vehicles communicate with other vehicles nearby and around the city.
Calgarians and Edmontonians will be able to test-ride autonomous, electric shuttles for free once the two pilot programs launch later this year.
This is the first time in Canada that this kind of pilot program has been made accessible to the general public, according to Andrew Sedor, a transportation planner with the City of Calgary.
In Calgary, the free shuttle will run between the Telus Spark Science Centre and the Calgary Zoo along a service lane.
The route in Edmonton will be announced later this summer once it is approved by Alberta Transportation. It should be operational in October, said Stephanie McCabe with the City of Edmonton.
The pilot projects will likely operate for up to one month, but may be extended if feedback is positive.
“If the public really, really enjoys it, then we can definitely explore running it for longer,” Sedor says.
“This particular vehicle has been tested in 20 countries on four different continents, and is in permanent use in both Singapore and Arlington, Texas,” said Dan Finley, vice-president of business development with the Pacific Western Group of Companies, which is helping sponsor the project.
Finley says the vehicle model that will be tested in Alberta has already transported several hundred thousand people around the world. (CBC)
Finley said the vehicle has been tested in all sorts of weather environments, from humidity to snow.
Information collected by the program will inform future urban planning decisions and help academics understand how people respond to changing technologies.
The projects are the result of a partnership between academia, industry and all three levels of government.