The future of transportation in Calgary will be discussed by city councillors on Wednesday, including the potential for a driverless shuttle between the Calgary Zoo LRT Station and the Spark science centre.
“It’s a kind of awkward one-kilometre walk right now through a parking lot so that isn’t great,” City of Calgary transportation planner Andrew Sedor said. “With this pilot [project], people will have another option for getting there.”
If approved, the project would see low-speed, autonomous shuttles with a 10-person capacity operating as early as 2018.
The shuttle would be separated from traffic by barriers and travel at about 12 km/h.
“When we were talking with the federal government and the province, they weren’t worried about the vehicle hitting people – they were worried about people backing up into the vehicle. That’s why I has to be segregated,” Sedor said.
“What usually happens is they pre-program the vehicle. If it encounters something along the route, like a vehicle, it’ll weave around it.”
“The University of Alberta is actually procuring the vehicle and then they’re going to run the trial,” Sedor explained. “They’re actually going to test it at the U of A campus for a number of months before they bring it down to Calgary – just to make sure that it’s safe.”
“It’s a proven technology. It’s new to Canada but it has been in other countries around the world.”
Sedor said they’d like still have someone in the vehicle “just in case something happens.”
“That driver will also be telling people about the technology [and] surveying the people to see what they think about it.”
The pilot project will be discussed by the transportation and transit committee as they look into three main tech trends: autonomy, electrification, and connectivity and shared mobility.
With files from Doug Vaessen