A pilot project of an autonomous shuttle will debut in Calgary this September. The electric driverless shuttle with be able to transport up to 12 passengers. The selected route is between the Calgary Zoo LRT entrance and the Telus Spark science centre. It will be free to the public.
The vehicle dubbed “ela” will travel at low speeds of 12km/h in a designated lane where pedestrians and other traffic aren’t allowed. The City of Calgary transportation department is helping launch this trial.
Andrew Sedor, with the Transportation department, said it’s a fun project that’s been successful around the world.
“We looked to Las Vegas and Singapore and what Las Vegas did was they piloted it for 2 weeks and people loved it and went on a longer pilot. If the public enjoys it we can explore it for running it longer,” Sedor said.
Pacific Western Transportation is helping sponsor the pilot projects in both Calgary and Edmonton. The Vice-President of business development, Dan Finley said the vehicles are produced by a French company, EasyMile.
“There have been over 170 deployments of this vehicle in 20 countries and 4 continents around the world. The vehicle technology isn’t new. It’s transported several hundred thousand people around the world,” Finley said.
There will be a guest host assisting passengers on and off the shuttle and the host will have the capability to stop the vehicle, but there is no steering wheel. The shuttle operates using 3D sensors and cameras to help guide it.
The vehicle has been tested in cold weather and has heating on board, as well as air conditioning.
Both the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta will be conducting research projects, studying the impacts for long-term usage.