Plan for free driverless electric shuttles at the UBC campus cancelled

Aug 6 2022, 4:18 am

The University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Vancouver campus will not be served by free driverless electric shuttles after all due to red tape.

Plans for such a service operated by BCAA — the owner and operator of Evo Car Share — first surfaced in late 2021 during a TransLink board of directors meeting.

This was intended to be a 12-month pilot project starting sometime in 2022, with the shuttle service operating every 12 to 18 minutes, from 8 am to 6 pm on weekdays. The service would operate on two designated north-south routes across campus, along the Varsity Fields’ pedestrian pathway and along East Mall.

BCAA would use EZ10 vehicles, just like the driverless shuttle vehicle demonstration in Vancouver’s Olympic Village and Surrey’s Civic Plaza in early 2019.

bcaa shuttle ubc routes

BCAA Shuttle routes map: Route 1 (red) and Route 2 (yellow). (Daily Hive/Google Maps)

In an email to Daily Hive Urbanized, Sara Holland, a spokesperson for BCAA, said while plans to implement the pilot project were highly advanced, it became apparent that it would not be possible to align the timing for each aspect of the project, including regulatory approval, vehicle availability, and government support.

BCAA and UBC required the provincial government to make an exception in the BC Motor Vehicle Act to allow for the legal operation of the driverless vehicles. While these vehicles would be engaged in autonomous operations, the plan was to have an attendant onboard at all times should manual control be needed. Furthermore, as another safety precaution, the vehicles would travel at low speeds on the designated routes.

This project was a partnership with not only UBC but also Rogers Telecommunications as a research opportunity, with Transport Canada also involved through its allocated federal funding.

“After years of pursuing this pilot, we are incredibly thankful for all the support, enthusiasm, and dedication that so many partners who have been cheering on this project gave us,” said Holland.

“We have learned a lot along the way and look forward to exploring other autonomous projects in the future, specifically around how autonomous technology could improve road safety.”

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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