Toronto suspends self-driving shuttle pilot after Whitby crash

The City of Toronto has halted its trial of a self-driving bus after a similar one crashed into a tree in Whitby and critically injured the onboard attendant.

On December 16, the Whitby Autonomous Vehicle Electric (WAVE) drove head-on into a tree near Victoria Street West and Watson Street West.

Autonomous shuttle in Whitby, Ontario crashes into tree seriously injuring safety operator on board

The 23-year-old male onboard suffered critical injures and is recovering in a Toronto-area trauma centre.

The attendant was the only person on board at the time of the crash.

However, how the bus left the roadway is not clear.

The WAVE is a small, battery-powered shuttle that travels a six km route beginning and ending at the Whitby GO station. While on autonomous mode, the WAVE maxes out at 20 km/h, however the onboard attendant can take over manually if necessary.

The Durham Regional Police Collision Investigation Unit is investigating the crash. As well, the Ministry of Labour is also investigating the accident.

The partnership between the TTC and Metrolinx is on pause. The City of Toronto noted that they might restart the trial, but they are waiting for the investigation into the Whitby crash.

In a notice posted to the City of Toronto website, the rising number of COVID-19 cases was also cited as a reason for the suspension of the trial.

The WAVE is currently shut down. The City of Whitby and Durham Region Transit did not note when or if the WAVE would restart. Nor did they provide a comment on the ongoing investigation.

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