Press Release: SmartCone's Technology Sets North America's longest Autonomous Shuttle Route Apart
Ride the WAVE! North America’s Longest Autonomous Shuttle Deployment with Integrated Smart Safety Infrastructure to be piloted in Whitby, Ontario
On-road testing for self-driving shuttle service to begin this summer
Whitby, ON|August 24, 2021 Transit passengers will soon have the opportunity to ride the WAVE – Whitby Autonomous Vehicle Electric – shuttle along the waterfront in Whitby, Ontario. The self-driving shuttle is anticipated to be on Whitby streets in the coming weeks for on-road testing, followed by public ridership later this year.
The autonomous electric shuttle is emission-free and integrates cutting-edge smart infrastructure along the route to help create safer roads for pedestrians, cyclists, transit passengers and other road users. The pilot project is being undertaken in partnership between SmartCone Technologies, AutoGuardian By SmartCone, the Town of Whitby, Region of Durham, Durham Region Transit (DRT), Metrolinx, Nokia Canada and other partners, to learn about how new technologies can contribute to safer, more sustainable and connected transit and traffic operations.
The six-kilometre shuttle route will begin and end at the Whitby GO Transit station, making a loop through the residential, recreational and industrial areas of the Port Whitby neighbourhood (in south Whitby). The pilot is the first time in Canada that an autonomous shuttle and smart infrastructure will be fully integrated into an existing transit service – as DRT Route 300 – providing the opportunity to assess the operational, financial and customer service benefits and implications of these technologies in community transit. The pilot will also help inform the physical and digital transportation infrastructure necessary to prepare for autonomous vehicles on public roads in Canada.
With safety as the top priority, the shuttle will operate at a speed of no more than 20 kilometres per hour and have a trained safety attendant on board who can manually take control of the vehicle at any time, if required. The service will also be aided by more than 50 pieces of smart transportation infrastructure that dramatically increase road safety, including the elimination of blind spots experienced by vehicles, and use of real-time audio and visual alerts to other road users about the shuttle’s operation.
Whitby Autonomous Vehicle Electric Shuttle - Local Motors Olli 1.0
The project is being supported by the Government of Ontario in funding through the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN), led by the Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI), as well as funding from project partners. The pilot will be delivered through the support and experience of local, national and international partners, including:
Ontario Centre of Innovation – funding to Smartcone for smart infrastructure project
SmartCone – project lead, provider of smart infrastructure technology
AutoGuardian By SmartCone – operators of the intelligent infrastructure and autonomous shuttle
Town of Whitby – host community for pilot
Region of Durham – traffic and signal operations
Durham Region Transit – transit service
Nokia – private wireless network infrastructure provider
Local Motors – shuttle manufacturer
Metrolinx – provincial transportation agency
Ontario Tech University – Automotive Centre of Excellence for autonomous vehicle maintenance
Durham College – outreach and engagement support
Transport Canada – regulator for importing the autonomous vehicle shuttle
Ministry of Transportation – regulator for autonomous vehicle pilots in Ontario
To learn more about the project and when you can ride the WAVE shuttle later this year, visit connectwhitby.ca/ridetheWAVE.
Once public ridership begins later this year, shuttle passengers and operators will be required to follow all provincial and public health and safety measures in place at the time of launch to stop the spread of COVID-19, including the wearing of a mask or face covering.
The onboard shuttle health and safety protocol will align with broader DRT COVID-response measures, including an enhanced cleaning and disinfecting process and onboard hand sanitizer stations.
Once public ridership begins later this year, the shuttle service will be free during the trial and integrated into the existing DRT schedule as Route 300. Regular fares will apply when transferring to connecting DRT or GO Transit services.
The shuttle will operate weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. in off-peak times to minimize traffic impact, and on weekends between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. DRT On Demand service will also continue to be available in the Port Whitby area throughout the pilot.
The pilot will be the longest operation of its kind in Canada in terms of route length being six kilometres.
“SmartCone is honoured to lead this project with the support of AVIN and OCI. Working with these technology leaders will be ground-breaking and together we will show how an autonomous solution can come to market in a real-world and truly integrated environment safely and to the benefit of all.”
Jason Lee, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, SmartCone
"OCI, AVIN and the Government of Ontario were truly instrumental in getting AutoGuardian off the ground through their support in this project. Working with these stakeholders has added immeasurable value for AutoGuardian to ensure our AV Operations services are seamless and align to support regional transit needs."
Tenille Houston, Chief Executive Officer, AutoGuardian By SmartCone
“Transportation advancements, like autonomous vehicles, have the potential to transform the way people live, work and move across the province. The introduction of this innovative new autonomous shuttle pilot will help connect people in Whitby to GO services, creating a more connected, efficient transit system for the region.”
The Honourable Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation, Government of Ontario
“This project puts Ontario at the forefront of leading-edge transit technology in Canada. Our government proudly supports this pilot that will enhance mobility and quality of life in Whitby and beyond. Ambitious projects like this foster growth and innovation and they make our economy more competitive while supporting our work to help businesses rebound from the impact of COVID-19.”
Vic Fedeli, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Government of Ontario
“Finding innovative ways to improve and enhance transit services while ensuring that it is also safe, accessible and sustainable for Durham residents, is a priority. I’m excited that Whitby is the first in Canada to integrate this pilot project into existing transit service highlighting another example of how Whitby and the Region of Durham is a leader in innovation.”
Lorne Coe, MPP for Whitby and Chief Government Whip, Government of Ontario
“The Region of Durham is excited to partner with this forward-thinking group of innovators. The push towards environmentally sustainable transit options is beneficial for everyone in Durham. Durham Region has a long history of automotive advancement and leadership. This ground-breaking project demonstrates that Durham continues to be at the forefront of the development of new mobility solutions and technologies.”
John Henry, Regional Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Region of Durham
“This is an exciting project that shines a light on Whitby and Durham Region as leaders in innovation and technology, and environmentally sustainable solutions. We are proud to be part of a highly-experienced project team who bring together the right technology, knowledge and insights to undertake this project.”
Don Mitchell, Mayor, Town of Whitby
“We are proud to play our part in enabling the launch of the WAVE. Secure, reliable and high-bandwidth private wireless connectivity has an important role to play in the roll-out of autonomous vehicle systems, where safety and dependability are top priorities.”
Shawn Sparling, VP Enterprise and Public Sector, Nokia Canada
“We're excited to be a part of this pilot to integrate autonomous vehicles into our transit network, enhancing connections to GO Transit and local transit services. Metrolinx remains committed to working with our municipal partners to build on all of the work that has been done to date in finding new and innovative ways to move people throughout the region more efficiently and seamlessly.”
Phil Verster, President and Chief Executive Officer, Metrolinx
See the full release here.