Canada’s First Electric Driverless Vehicle Deployed on the Road

Canada’s Beaumont experienced the first driverless vehicle set on its journey along regular traffic

The self-driving shuttle was deployed into usual traffic for the very first time in Canada. The project—Electric Autonomous (ELA) vehicle pilot project is now taken across a kilometer-long extent of the 50 Street in Beaumont, Alta. The City of Beaumont working in collaboration with Pacific Western Transportation is utilizing the project to highlight the state-of-the-art self-driving technology. The shuttle can maneuver along with the usual busy roads on its own, where an operator is required to monitor it.

The ELA presently achieves a top speed of 15 kilometers per hour and hits a single set of traffic lights along its course. However, over the coming six months, the shuttle’s route would eventually develop to grow across three intersections and make a right-hand turn.

Beaumont’s manager of engineering—Tyler Tymchyshyn stated that they are offering a separate lane for ELA, so that, when in a mixed-use scenario, the lane meant for the operation of ELA is segregated again from the usual traveling public. He further added that during the course of the coming six months the aim would be that the lane is an ELA-only lane and, hence, no other usual traffic would be allowed to function within that ELA lane. Furthermore, the use of sensors makes the vehicle capable of interacting with its surrounding environment and stop for cars, pedestrians, and animals safely.

Although ELA could stand as a convenient transportation mode for Beaumont residents, the project was initially not a transportation initiative. The city paid $200,000 as a part of its economic development strategy for the deployment of this autonomous vehicle in the city. Mike Schwirtz, Beaumont city manager said that to look at such advances in technologies is a part of their economic development strategy.

This implementation was made possible by the City of Beaumont after the three months long planning of how to introduce the driverless vehicle on the road, deliberating signage, changes in traffic light timing, and emergency services. Officials said that they want to draw the attention of more number of commercial and industrial investments to the area and they anticipated that the project could reflect their willingness to embrace new technologies.