Beaumont is the first western Canadian city to deploy technology allowing driverless vehicles and traffic infrastructure to talk with each other, as its autonomous shuttle pilot project heads into its third and final phase.
“The project has been an incredible success to date, but this is what we’ve really been working towards,” says City of Beaumont Mayor John Stewart. “The benefit is two-fold: the project teaches us how an autonomous vehicle reacts to the road, traffic lights and pedestrians, and it has raised the profile of the community. We’ve received interest from businesses and communities across Canada, and even internationally.”
For the third phase of the pilot, the city and its partner, Pacific Western Transportation (PWT), implemented vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology that enables the shuttle and road infrastructure, such as traffic lights, lane markings and signs, to communicate wirelessly. The pilot is providing valuable learnings including how the technology operates in a variable climate, citizen response and readiness, and insights into potential civic and infrastructure planning.
“The City of Beaumont and Pacific Western Transportation’s joint commitment to innovation has provided more than 4,000 passengers the opportunity to be among the first people in Canada to experience autonomous vehicle technology,” says John Stepovy, Director, Sales and Business Development for PWT. “Adding V2I technology takes it to the next level and lays the groundwork for smart cities where autonomous vehicles operate widely, communicating with traffic infrastructure. The potential benefits for this are numerous, such as improving passenger and pedestrian safety, enhanced accessibility and mobility for residents, and reducing road congestion.”
The city partnered with Pacific Western Transportation to conduct the pilot project from May to October. The shuttle, named ELA for Electric Autonomous, travels an approximate one-kilometre route north and south on the city’s 50th Street. ELA is the first time an autonomous vehicle has been fully integrated with traffic, pedestrians and traffic technology in western Canada.
"For regional prosperity to truly happen and be sustainable, everyone must participate. A key to this is having open-minded and risk-taking municipalities, such as the City of Beaumont, embrace innovative ideas,” says Malcolm Bruce, CEO of Edmonton Global. “The City of Beaumont’s autonomous shuttle pilot project and their 3D crosswalks not only provide valuable learning opportunities and insightful data sets, these projects demonstrate to the world that we are not afraid to experiment and try things first.”
Editor’s Note: ELA is operating Sept. 9 and 10 at the Edmonton Convention Centre as a showcase during the RIMS Canada Conference and will be available for photos and b-roll.
About The City of Beaumont
With a population of nearly 19,000, Beaumont is the 5th fastest growing community in Canada and received City status on January 1, 2019. Beaumont borders the City of Edmonton to the north and is only nine kilometres east of the Edmonton International Airport.
About Pacific Western Transportation
Founded in 1957, Pacific Western Transportation (PWT) is the largest privately-owned people transportation company in Canada. Today, PWT offers comprehensive transportation services and solutions across the country, with over 5,000 employees and numerous business locations. PWT’s operations are separated into four divisions: Motorcoach, Employee, Student Transportation, and Transit.
ELA is the first Electric Autonomous Shuttle Experience open to the public in western Canada. Operated by Pacific Western Transportation (PWT), ELA demonstrates the future of transportation. ELA is manufactured by EasyMile, one of the leading autonomous vehicle technology companies. The EasyMile driverless shuttle has been deployed in over 25 countries across Asia-Pacific, the Middle-East, North America, and Europe. To learn more about ELA, click here.