Surrey and Vancouver are offering residents a chance to “be one of the first people to experience a driverless shuttle ride” in the Lower Mainland.
The “autonomous” vehicles are part of the two cities’ $50 million Smart Cities Challenge bid to create Canada’s first “two collision-free multimodal corridors using smart mobility technologies.”
As the cities wait to see if their bid is successful, shuttle rides are being offered in both cities next month.
“This is the first time that autonomous vehicles are being considered for large-scale use in the Lower Mainland,” notes smartertogether.ca. “Together, Surrey and Vancouver are setting the standard for other cities in Canada to follow our lead on smarter streets.”
What is a driverless shuttle?
According to smartertogether.ca, these vehicles use a combination of sensors, video cameras, and computers “to understand its surroundings.”
They are “anticipated to eliminate one of the leading contributors to collisions – human error. This can improve safety, enhance sustainability, and reduce congestion on busy corridors,” the website notes.
The shuttle being demo’d is an ELA, specifically the EZ10 Driverless Shuttle, which is already being used in several countries around the world, according to smartertogether.ca.
“ELA – short for Electric Automation – is a fully-accessible, 100 per cent electric vehicle with a battery life of up to 14 hours,” the website states, adding that the shuttle holds up to 12 passengers and will travel at about 12 km/h during the demo but has a maximum travelling speed of 40 km/h.
During the demos, the shuttle will be separated from traffic to ensure public safety, and a trained operator will be on board.
It can accommodate wheelchairs, scooters, and strollers.
Rides are scheduled in Surrey, starting at Surrey Civic Plaza outside city hall, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 1 to 4, 6, 9, 10 and 13-17. In Vancouver, there are two locations, from Feb. 23 to March 3 from noon to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends (one starts from the parking lot of Olympic Village SkyTrain station, and the second at the northwest corner of Manitoba and West 1st Avenue).
Visit ridewithela.ca/book-ride to reserve a spot. Reservations are encouraged, but people can drop-in during demo days as well.