Driverless shuttle could operate in Calgary if pilot project approved by councillors

Click to play video: 'Driverless shuttle plan goes before Calgary committee' Driverless shuttle plan goes before Calgary committee
WATCH: A city committee will be discussing approving a trial run for a driverless shuttle in Calgary. Doug Vaessen has details on the potential route. – May 17, 2017

The future of transportation in Calgary will be discussed by city councillors on Wednesday, including the potential for a driverless shuttle between the Calgary Zoo LRT Station and the Spark science centre.

“It’s a kind of awkward one-kilometre walk right now through a parking lot so that isn’t great,” City of Calgary transportation planner Andrew Sedor said. “With this pilot [project], people will have another option for getting there.”

If approved, the project would see low-speed, autonomous shuttles with a 10-person capacity operating as early as 2018.

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The shuttle would be separated from traffic by barriers and travel at about 12 km/h.

“When we were talking with the federal government and the province, they weren’t worried about the vehicle hitting people – they were worried about people backing up into the vehicle. That’s why it has to be segregated,” Sedor said.

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“What usually happens is they pre-program the vehicle. If it encounters something along the route, like a vehicle, it’ll weave around it.”


“The University of Alberta is actually procuring the vehicle and then they’re going to run the trial,” Sedor explained. “They’re actually going to test it at the U of A campus for a number of months before they bring it down to Calgary – just to make sure that it’s safe.”

“It’s a proven technology. It’s new to Canada but it has been in other countries around the world.”

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Sedor said they’d like still have someone in the vehicle “just in case something happens.”

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“That driver will also be telling people about the technology [and] surveying the people to see what they think about it.”

The pilot project will be discussed by the transportation and transit committee as they look into three main tech trends: autonomy, electrification, and connectivity and shared mobility.

With files from Doug Vaessen

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