- its proximity to Whitby Station providing connections to Durham Region Transit and GO Transit services;
- the mix of residential, commercial, industrial and recreational uses in the area;
- the ability to avoid higher speed and higher volume major roads;
- a level of transit demand that is more suited to a smaller vehicle than a full-sized bus; and,
- the ability to use existing transit stops already in place along the route.
What is the WAVE?
WAVE stands for Whitby Autonomous Vehicle Electric shuttle – an autonomous vehicle and smart infrastructure pilot project being undertaken in Whitby in Durham Region. The autonomous electric shuttle is emission-free and integrates cutting-edge smart infrastructure along the route to help create safer roads for pedestrians, cyclists, transit passengers and other road users.
Why conduct an autonomous shuttle and smart infrastructure pilot?
The project is being undertaken to learn about how new technologies can contribute to safer, more sustainable and connected transit and traffic operations.
The pilot is North America’s longest autonomous shuttle deployment with integrated smart safety infrastructure. The pilot is also the first time in Canada that an autonomous shuttle and smart infrastructure will be fully integrated into an existing transit service – as DRT Route 300 – providing the opportunity to assess the operational, financial and customer service benefits and implications of these technologies in community transit. The pilot will also help inform the physical and digital transportation infrastructure necessary to prepare for autonomous vehicles on public roads in Canada.
Is the shuttle vehicle safe?
With safety as a top priority, the shuttle will operate at a speed of no more than 20 kilometres per hour and have a trained safety attendant on board who can manually take control of the vehicle at any time, if required. The service will also be aided by more than 50 pieces of smart transportation infrastructure that dramatically increase road safety, including the elimination of blind spots experienced by vehicles, and use of real-time audio and visual alerts to other road users about the shuttle’s operation.
The shuttle is also equipped with a triple-redundant system of sensors and cameras that will automatically recognize a situation outside the AV’s operational design domain. The vehicle control unit has built-in software and functionality to stop the vehicle and immediately apply brakes as soon as communication with the autonomous kit is not detected. All of this happens in milliseconds. The route is also equipped with smart infrastructure and promoted via appropriate signage.
Why was this shuttle route chosen?
The Port Whitby area offers an ideal location to operate the autonomous shuttle given:
Why was Whiby selected for this pilot location?
Whitby and Durham Region are innovation and technology hubs and are continually looking for opportunities to support projects that drive innovation forward. This is one such project.
How does this pilot project benefit the Town of Whitby, the Region of Durham and its residents?
The pilot project benefits the local community in a variety of ways including:
• Creating a more connected and accessible community.
• Providing new mobility options for customers to access transit services closer to where they live and work.
• Enhancing the safety of local streets and neighbourhoods.
• Reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the use of electric vehicles.
• Positioning Whitby and the Region of Durham as a progressive and innovative community.
• Promoting economic growth and diversification.
What is smart infrastructure?
For the first time in North America, an autonomous shuttle will be aided by more than 70 pieces of smart infrastructure including sensors, visual and audio signals. The smart infrastructure is installed along the route and activated automatically to ensure the safety of pedestrians, shuttle passengers and other drivers. The infrastructure dramatically increases road safety, including the elimination of blind spots experienced by vehicles, and use of real-time audio and visual alerts to other road users about the shuttle’s operation.
How is the pilot funded?
The project is supported through funding from the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) administered by the Ontario Centres of Innovation and funded by contributions, both financial and in-kind support, from various project partners (SmartCone Technologies, Autoguardian by SmartCone, Region of Durham and Durham Region Transit, Town of Whitby and others).
Have there been other autonomous vehicle shuttle pilots in North America and Canada?
Yes, but these past projects were shorter in duration and very different. The pilot is North America’s longest autonomous shuttle deployment with integrated smart safety infrastructure. The pilot is also the first time in Canada that an autonomous shuttle and smart infrastructure will be fully integrated into an existing transit service – as DRT Route 300 – providing the opportunity to assess the operational, financial and customer service benefits and implications of these technologies in community transit. The pilot will also help inform the physical and digital transportation infrastructure necessary to prepare for autonomous vehicles on public roads in Canada.
Where will the shuttle provide service?
The six-kilometre shuttle route will begin and end at the Whitby GO Transit station, making a loop through the residential, recreational and industrial areas of the Port Whitby neighbourhood (in south Whitby). Public ridership will begin later this year following on-road testing.
Will the shuttle pilot replace existing public transit service?
This pilot project will not replace existing public transit service and will complement existing DRT and GO Train service, providing greater flexibility for transit users in Durham Region. The shuttle pilot is intended to generate knowledge about autonomous vehicle technology and how it can be integrated into a broader transit system over the long term.
Will children be able to ride the WAVE?
Once public ridership begins, the WAVE will be integrated into an existing transit service. In accordance with transit policy and out of an abundance of caution with safety as the project team's top priority, children 8 years of age and younger will unfortunately not be permitted to ride the WAVE at this stage of the project pilot. The shuttle model has seatbelts that must be worn by riders at all times. This not does permit for the install of safety seats required to be used by small children.