The federal government has committed $500,000 towards the University of Alberta’s project to improve privacy of automated vehicle communications.
The government said the funding will support research, studies and technology to help address technical, policy and regulatory issues related to connected and automated vehicles.
“Connected and automated vehicle technology has immense potential and will have a tremendous impact on our transportation system,” Transport Minister Marc Garneau said.
“This funding will help our stakeholders improve their understanding of connected and automated vehicle technologies, and how to safely and securely integrate them into our road system in order to capture their many benefits.”
WATCH: Federal government to provide $500,000 funding for driverless vehicle projects
“University of Alberta experts are not only researching and developing these innovative technologies, but also helping us to understand and adapt to the implications and practical realities of these shifts and how we are in fact going to live our daily lives as a result,” university president David Turpin said.
Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi said investing in automated vehicles will help road safety and reduce the environmental impact of transportation, among other benefits.
“These technologies will also have a long-term effect on how we travel, how we move our goods and how we get our products and resources to markets,” he said.
“Our communities need to be prepared for these innovations and we must be active participants in this change because we want it done right.”
The money committed to the university’s project is part of $2.9 million in funding Transport Canada is investing towards a national program to advance connectivity and automation in the transportation system.
Earlier in June, Edmonton and Calgary took part in a pilot project in partnership with Pacific Western Transportation to test the technology.
The Alberta pilot product dubbed “ELA” – a 12-person shuttle – will begin testing in Calgary in September. It’ll be taking passengers from the Calgary Zoo LRT station to the TELUS Spark Science Centre.
A similar test is planned for October in Edmonton on a route still to be determined. The city said that will be announced later this year once all safety requirements and regulations are approved by Alberta Transportation.
The city said the route will be on a segregated road, separated from other vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
The pilot will give people the opportunity to ride in the autonomous vehicle and provide feedback to the city. The vehicle will operate at low speeds of approximately 12 km/h over a one-kilometre circuit. The test will run up to a month.
The two cities will share their test results, which Edmonton said will enable additional data evaluation of how the pilot vehicle operates in two different Alberta climates.
The EZ10 vehicle to be tested is manufactured by EasyMile, which the city said has deployed driverless shuttles in 20 countries across Asia-Paciﬁc, the Middle East, North America and Europe. Many of the applications are in mixed traffic where vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians are using the roadway, the city said.
The vehicle’s driverless technology comes with multiple safety features and collision-avoidance systems that detect pedestrians, cyclists, other vehicles and obstacles, the city noted.
However, there will be a person in the vehicle who is able to stop it at any point, if needed.
With files from Karen Bartko and Scott Johnson