Electric autonomous shuttle bus trial begins in Ottawa

A self-driving electric shuttle bus will kick off its 10-day public trial in Ottawa tomorrow, the first of its kind in Ontario.

The project is being run by Area X.O., an Invest Ottawa venture in partnership with Transport Canada, the City of Ottawa and Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation, and others. The trial will see an EasyMile EZ10 low-speed shuttle travel along a pre-programmed 1.5km, four stop route on the federal government’s Tunney’s Pasture campus.

Aero XO trial map

Though small, the shuttles can hold up to 6 people, and travel up to 25km/h. It will be limited to just 15km/h during the test, and will have a safety driver onboard at all times to take control if necessary.

During a media event Monday, the self-driving sensors and software were maybe a bit too sensitive. The electric shuttle came to a complete stop for blowing leaves, a light snowfall, and even some nearby geese.

“It’s giving us the data that were hoping to collect over ten days that are very unique to our region. It will allow EasyMile to actually perfect what they do and help us as a region to improve and develop what were doing,” Invest Ottawa President and CEO Michael Tremblay told CTV News.

Along with the self-driving data that will be gathered during the trial, the team will also be looking at the efficiency of the battery in the electric shuttle bus in Ottawa’s cold weather.

Due to COVID-19, the autonomous shuttles will only be available to employees on the campus, or individuals involved with the project.

Residents of Toronto will get their own autonomous shuttle bus next spring with the Automated Shuttle Trial. That test will be run in partnership with Metrolinx and the Government of Canada, and last for 6-12 months.

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