It may have seemed like a distant reality not long ago, but an autonomous shuttle service will transport passengers around Vancouver starting this Saturday.
Powered by electricity, this self-driving vehicle is marketed as the future of transportation and is the first Electric Autonomous Shutte Experience open to the public in Canada.
ELA - short for Electronic Automation - is manufactured by EasyMile, a leading autonomous manufacturer that has deployed driverless shuttles in over 20 countries across Asia-Pacific, the Middle-East, North America and Europe. The shuttles use a combination of sensors, video cameras, and computers to understand their surroundings.
The shuttles are being considered for large scale use in the Lower Mainland, as they foster a greener alternative to current methods of transit. In addition, they are considered safer as they eliminated human error which often leads to collisions.
Residents of the Lower Mainland can experience the technology firsthand this weekend.
The shuttles maintain their power for up to 14 hours and hold speeds of up to 40km per hour. Further, each shuttle holds a maximum of 12 people per ride.
The shuttle will be separated from traffic to ensure public safety and a trained operator will be on board.
The demonstration takes about 15 minutes to complete along West 1st Ave where the shuttle will operate in the westbound lane. Pick up locations are the Olympic Village Train Station Parking lot and Manitoba and W. 1st Ave, North West Corner. The event will take place from February 23rd to March 3rd from noon to 6 pm weekdays and 10 am to 5 pm on weekends.