Car News

Vancouver and Surrey offering free rides in autonomous shuttle pilot program

Starting today, a partnership between two of British Columbia’s largest communities – Vancouver and Surrey – will start its bid for the Smart Cities Challenge by offering free rides in autonomous EV shuttles.

The $50-million grand prize is given to the community that the challenge’s website says “achieves meaningful outcomes for residents through the use of data and connected technology.” Together, Vancouver and Surrey will compete for the prize against Waterloo, ON, Quebec City, QC, Montreal, QC and Edmonton, AB.

In the automotive sphere, terms like “data” and “connected technology” often speak to one thing: autonomy, and autonomous driving. In that light, the shuttles make perfect sense.

To prove how serious Vancouver-Surrey is about their bid, Global News reports that they’re allowing residents in both communities to sign up for free demo rides throughout February and into the first week of March.

The vehicle is called the EasyMile EZ10 driverless shuttle, featuring room for roughly 12 passengers, an accessibility ramp and can operate on existing roads. Even still, the areas they’ll be running in B.C. – around the Surrey Civic Plaza, and along West 1st Avenue between the Olympic Village Canada Line station and Manitoba St. in Vancouver – the EZ10s will be separated from everyday traffic. The roads are not being completely closed off to traffic, but top speed is limited to 12 km/h.

Eventually, the goal will be to have these vehicles running consistent routes in the respective cities – Global reports that the plan is for a 3.4 km route in Surrey from Surrey Memorial Hospital, and a two km route in Vancouver, between Granville Island and Science World.

Interested in a demo? You can register at the Smart City Challenge website.