Edmonton Metro Region drives Canada’s first autonomous shuttle pilot

ELA operating on its route during a pilot project in Beaumont, Alberta.

Autonomous vehicles are hitting the streets — and the region’s City of Beaumont is ready to  take the wheel.  

Their recent pilot project introduced the region to ELA — an electric-powered, driverless shuttle that is Canada’s first-ever pilot of an autonomous shuttle in mixed use traffic.

Short for Electric Autonomous, ELA was the perfect fit for Beaumont to test on one of its busiest commercial streets. The small, square, pink and silver vehicle has some big features — it’s safe, fully accessible with a ramp, and can operate on fixed or on-demand routes on its own. 

Driving alongside regular traffic, the shuttle can transport up to 12 people at a time and operates in a dedicated lane and is covered with sensors that allow for quick stops.

Its driverless technology comes with collision avoidance systems that detect other vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and obstacles. It is also equipped with multiple safety features for braking, entry and exit of the vehicle.

Autonomous vehicles are changing the way we do business and bringing more convenience to people across the globe. This industry’s development will be a driving force in the world of transportation and logistics, not only for citizens but also for businesses. 

In addition to the ELA project, the region is also home to innovative organizations dedicated to the growing autonomous vehicle sector. 

The University of Alberta’s Centre for Smart Transportation is developing connected vehicle technology, allowing vehicles to “speak” with each other and with other road technology such as stop lights, for example. 

The Advanced Systems for Transportation Consortium (AST) from ACAMP— a tech-focused development centre — is a place for autonomous vehicle testing and development, promoting Alberta’s autonomous systems sector through research and networking with Alberta businesses and multinational automotive companies.

These initiatives highlight the Edmonton Metropolitan Region’s focus new tech evolution, welcoming industries to apply new technologies to local planning. 

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