The WAVE

Driverless shuttle coming along Whitby waterfront

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 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, said a news release by Smartcone Technologies.

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.

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.

“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,” said Jason Lee, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, SmartCone.

“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,” said 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,” added Don Mitchell, Mayor, Town of Whitby.

Quick Facts

• 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 am and 3:30 pm in off-peak times to minimize traffic impact, and on weekends between 7 am and 7 pm. 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.

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