On June 11, 2019 the City of Edmonton Urban Planning committee received information on Automated Vehicle Testing in Edmonton. Autonomous vehicles are also known as driverless cars, self-driving cars, robotic cars or automated vehicles. A fully autonomous vehicle is capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input. It can detect its surroundings using a variety of techniques, such as radar, GPS and computer vision.
The City of Edmonton administration partnered with stakeholders to deliver an innovative electric autonomous vehicle pilot in the fall of 2018. The pilot project achieved its goals of providing Edmontonians with an opportunity to ride an autonomous vehicle; collecting feedback on citizen perception and readiness for autonomous vehicles; and understanding operations including facilitating cold weather testing and cyber-security testing.
The electric autonomous vehicle used for this pilot, named “ELA” has the following characteristics:
- Operates 100% autonomous and is powered by electricity
- Can carry up to 12 passengers (six seated and six standing)
- Is accessible to everyone with its built-in access ramp
- Operated on fixed routes
- Can operate up to 40 km/h but was programmed to go a maximum of 12 km/h.
- Was supervised by a Pacific Western Transportation operator on board at all time
There were four conclusions from the pilot: Edmontonians are interested and cautious about autonomous vehicles, partnerships are critical to success, long-range planning is important, and the technology is new and continually evolving.
The most exciting part of the information we received on the Automated Vehicle Testing was that 94% felt safe while riding the autonomous vehicle. Safety must be the most important criteria when we are discussing the transition to artificial intelligence vehicles.
I am curious and excited to look into how artificial vehicles can play a role in growing our city. All of our experts have told us that artificial intelligence vehicles are approximately 5 years away from being a reality on the roads in Edmonton. That means that we need to start preparing right now. In fact, there is already a company called WAYMO that has AI cars on the ground in Phenoix today. WAYMO has moved beyond testing into implementation – and that is becoming the new normal in AI.
As a city, we need to be on the leading edge in making AI a reality on the ground. We have everything it takes to do that – world-class universities, a highly skilled workforce, the physical room to experiment, and the support of the government.
The idea of people being transported more safely and efficiently is very appealing. I am also looking forward to integrating our public transportation systems into a world with more automated vehicles. Are you excited about a future with increased automated vehicles? I am.