Launch of the First On-Road Automated Shuttle Trial in Ontario in Canada's CAV Capital
Ottawa, Ontario – November 2, 2020 - Area X.O operated by Invest Ottawa, together with Transport Canada, the City of Ottawa, EasyMile and fellow partners today announced the launch of the first on-road electric Low-Speed Automated Shuttle (LSAS) trial of its kind in Ontario.
Following a week of vigorous testing at the Area X.O private test facility, the shuttles will operate up to 15KM/hour on a 1.5-kilometre route through Tunney's Pasture campus from November 3 to 13, 2020, and perform a variety of tests in real-world conditions. It is the first project of its kind to be approved in the province under the Ontario Automated Vehicle Testing Program. Building on the unique capabilities of Area X.O, innovators and firms across the Capital, this trial supports the development, validation and safe implementation of future transportation solutions. These include connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) and shuttles with the potential to create cleaner and more efficient mobility for citizens in urban and rural areas.
Automated shuttles have the potential to provide new transportation options for riders over the first or last mile of their journey and enhance access to public transportation. For example, these vehicles could potentially provide commuters with a seamless and convenient connection to transportation hubs such as airports.
This research project brings together Area X.O operated by Invest Ottawa; Transport Canada; the Ontario Ministry of Transportation; the City of Ottawa; EasyMile, an industry leader in driverless technology; Ottawa startups including AutoGuardian by SmartCone and RideShark; multinational companies such as Accenture; and the National Research Council of Canada. Together, this collaborative team aims to:
• Acquire greater insight into the planning and approvals processes for testing this emerging technology on Canadian roads;
• Assess the performance of low-speed automated shuttles operating in various conditions in a real-world transportation environment; this includes automated driving capabilities, battery energy efficiency, accessibility, and riders' perception of the technology; and
• Help inform Transport Canada's approach to low-speed automated shuttles, including supporting the development of guidance documents for testing CAV technology.
"Our Government is proud to support innovation and Canadian competitiveness in the emerging global connected and automated vehicle industry. Funded by Transport Canada, this low-speed automated shuttle trial will assess how automated vehicles can safely operate in real-world conditions. The findings will inform our Government's approach to ensuring that new technologies can be introduced in Canada in a safe and timely manner." - The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport
"It's great that Area X.O will host the first electric Low-Speed Automated Shuttle trial of its kind in Ontario in the heart of Ottawa, Canada's internationally recognized global tech hub. Our Government is committed to the development, validation and safe implementation of leading-edge technologies, including low carbon transportation solutions. These vehicles have the potential to enhance the lives of our citizens, create new market opportunity for our companies, and help move us to a low carbon future." - The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre
"Connected and automated vehicles have the potential to transform travel on our roads and be a significant contributor to Ontario's economy. That's why our Government invested in the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) and is working with innovative organizations like Invest Ottawa and EasyMile that are helping to make Ontario a global leader in the auto-tech sector. Congratulations to Invest Ottawa and EasyMile on reaching this milestone." - The Honourable Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation, Government of Ontario
"Great to see the continued expansion of Area X.O and all the work Invest Ottawa has done to ensure our talented innovation and I.T. sector have the space they need to test new ideas and grow. Through the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network, the province will continue to invest in our best and brightest to see that our automotive and tech sectors can collaborate now and in the future." - Honourable Victor Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade, Government of Ontario
"Ottawa continues to be a leader and innovator in automated vehicle technology. As a smart city, we have established that we have the talent and expertise to be the first out of the gate with projects like the Low-Speed Automated Shuttle that stretch the limits of what is possible. Working with our partners at Invest Ottawa, Transport Canada, and EasyMile on projects like Area X.O is just one example of how we develop smart initiatives and spark research that stimulates high-quality jobs in Ottawa." - His Worship Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa
"Area X.O has established a bold vision: to unleash and realize the potential, power and impact of visionary technologies to improve our world and human lives. We are truly proud to host the first LSAS trial of its kind in Ontario – a project that directly supports this goal. It harnesses the power of collaboration, bringing together innovative Ottawa startups, SMEs, multinationals and all three levels of government. The outcomes of this trial will help to create new capabilities, expertise and market opportunity for technology innovators and firms in our region, and Canada more broadly. Together, we are driving the safe implementation of future public transportation solutions." - Michael Tremblay, President and CEO, Invest Ottawa and Bayview Yards
"EasyMile is proud to be a part of this project and showcase our accessible, fully automated and 100 percent electric shuttle. Our shuttle helps bridge the gap between existing transportation services and provides local mobility in city centres, universities, airports and on business campuses. EasyMile is the first automated vehicle company to have our shuttle and technology deployed on the public roads in Ontario. This milestone is attributed to the strong collaboration among our world-class partners. We are 3 proud to collaborate with government agencies, academic institutions and other leading industry players on this first of its kind project that will help advance mobility not just in Ontario, but all of Canada." - Joseph Holmes, Sales Director, EasyMile Inc.
This on-road trial is one of several 'firsts' in Ottawa, Canada's CAV Capital. For example:
• In October 2017, Ottawa became the first Canadian city to launch testing of an on-street connected and autonomous vehicle communicating with live City infrastructure; this project was delivered by Area X.O operated by Invest Ottawa, BlackBerry QNX, the City of Ottawa and Kanata North Business Association (KNBA); and
• In August 2019, Area X.O, together with Aurrigo, Transport Canada and KNBA conducted a trial that enabled the public to experience a CAV operating in autonomous mode on a golf course
This new on-road trial in mixed traffic at Tunney's Pasture will test EasyMile's electric automated shuttles on a more complex route and gather greater insight and data on how they perform in various conditions. These milestones underscore Ottawa's capabilities as Canada's CAV capital and a global tech hub with the ability to achieve long-term impact on the future of transportation around the world.
Area X.O has invited key project stakeholders and tenants of Tunney's Pasture campus to:
• Schedule a safe, professionally managed 15-minute ride in the automated shuttle with up to five people who reside under the same roof; and
• Share feedback on their shuttle experience to support the goals of this research project.
The project team is working closely with public health authorities to preserve the health and safety of our community with strict COVID-19 protocols in place throughout the trial.
This Area X.O project builds on anchor support from the Government of Ontario through the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) and founding industry partners over the last two years. It will further support the development of next-generation technologies, new companies, top tech talent and high-value jobs, helping to drive our economic recovery and long-term economic growth.