Transportation engineering tests driverless shuttle on South Campus

    Edmontonians can test the driverless test shuttle and provide feedback

    By Kyla Stocks on November 28, 2018

    (Edmonton) The Faculty of Engineering’s Centre for Smart Transportation is testing driverless electric shuttles to see how they perform in a cold climate.

    And Edmontonians are helping by participating in the tests, which are running at the University of Alberta South Campus. You can register online for a ride.

    The shuttle is an electric autonomous vehicle named ELA that operates without a driver, holds 12 passengers, drives at speeds up to 12 km/h and is made to operate on existing city infrastructure.

    The South Campus area has been fitted with special signs for the shuttle to “read” and digital signalling equipment that allows the vehicle to understand its environment.

    U of A engineer Tony Qiu, director of the Centre for Smart Transportation, is working with the City to test the vehicles.

    “We have the capacity here at the Centre for Smart Transportation to redefine the infrastructure standards for automated and connected vehicle transportation, thinking about the requirements we can supply for large-scale deployment in a secure and certified environment,” he said.

    Smart Transportation systems involve vehicles and roadside infrastructure connected via wireless technology to help to identify risk out on the roads, alert drivers to potential hazards, respond to changing weather conditions, and manage traffic flow.

    ELA is being tested in conjunction with the City of Edmonton. It is part of the larger vision for safe, efficient and sustainable Transportation Systems within Edmonton and across the province of Alberta.

    The tests underway at South Campus are part of a research program to test the shuttle for three key things:

    • Test the Shuttle’s performance in a cold weather climate
    • Investigate ways that Smart infrastructure (roadside technology) can enhance the performance of the Shuttle
    • Understand how the Automated Shuttle will be operated in a secured and reliable environment

    The ELA vehicle has been used in tests by the city at two other sites since October.

    A similar pilot project earlier this year in Calgary involved providing short-distance shuttle service.

    Data from the pilots will be compiled jointly by the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, the City of Edmonton and the City of Calgary to assess the technology in colder climates, public feedback and readiness, and to plan for future uses.

    “We’re bringing together research on smart vehicles and smart infrastructure and on making them compatible, especially in cold climate conditions like those here in the city,” said Qiu.

    The project is a collaboration between Pacific Western Transit (PWTransit) and the City of Edmonton.