CALGARY — The first autonomous shuttle in Western Canada has arrived in Calgary, providing the public with an opportunity to experience this technology first-hand.
ELA, or ‘Electric Autonomous,’ is a fully-accessible 12-person vehicle, which will move passengers between the Calgary Zoo and TELUS Spark throughout the month of September.
This initiative is a public-private partnership, sponsored by Alberta-based Pacific Western Transportation (PWT), who will be operating the vehicle. Additional sponsorship has been provided by TELUS and ATCO, as well as a $50,000 grant provided by the Federal Government’s Program to Advance Connectivity and Automation in the Transportation System (ACATS).
“This is a very exciting initiative for Calgary and all of Canada,” says Kent Hehr, MP, Calgary Centre. “Autonomous technology is an opportunity to expand accessible transportation options for all Canadians.”
Under the Living Lab strategy, The City of Calgary is working with Calgary Economic Development to make public spaces, transportation corridors and land more accessible for the testing of technological innovation. It’s an example of how we’re working together to make Calgary more business friendly. This pilot will provide an opportunity to test the long-term feasibility of autonomous technology in Calgary, as part of The City’s 30-year Transportation Plan.
“For the majority of Calgary’s existence as a city, vehicles driven by people has been the norm, but we’re now potentially on the cusp of a significant change to the way people commute to where they live, work and play,” says Michael Thompson, general manager of Transportation. “Technologies evolve quickly, and The City of Calgary wants to be in a place where we can understand and take proactive steps to ensure new technology creates a better quality of life for Calgarians. This pilot puts Calgary in that place.”
Guided by sensors, including a key piece of high accuracy GPS equipment developed by local firm NovAtel, part of Hexagon’s Positioning Intelligence Division, ELA will operate at low speeds of approximately 12 km/hour, on a one-kilometre service road between the two tourist attractions.“We are proud to partner with the City of Calgary,” says Dan Finley, VP of Business Development at PWT. “It’s important for governments and industry to work together to learn about this evolving technology. It has the capacity to be a real game changer in the field of transportation.”
Throughout the trial, research will be conducted by the faculties of Science and the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary and passengers will have the opportunity to provide on-site feedback facilitated by the University and Dillon Consulting.
ELA is available to ride free of charge from Sept. 8 – 30. Rides can be booked online via ridewithela.ca. Following the Calgary pilot, ELA moves up to Edmonton for further testing in the Alberta climate.