Toronto is launching a driverless shuttle service run by AI
The robotic TTC driver of your dreams (or nightmares, depending on how you feel about AI) just took another towards reality with the announcement of an automated shuttle pilot project in Toronto.
As recommended by urban planners in a report presented at City Hall more than a year ago, the City of Toronto is officially moving forward with what will be the first self-driving transit shuttle trial in Canada.
Mayor John Tory announced the news on Monday during a speech at the 2019 National Association of City Transportation Officials Designing Cities conference in Toronto — the first such gathering to take place outside the U.S.
"We are working hard to address that first and last mile between the transit station and someone's home, " said Tory during his speech.
"Certainly, in the case of Toronto, many of the subdivisions of 50 years ago were designed with the car in mind and challenge us with the reality in the public transit domain that Torontonians are unlikely to walk 15 minutes to the bus when it's ten below in February," Tory continued.
"It's just not that likely to happen."
This will be the first automated transit shuttle trial in Canada, which will help us better understand the specific potential of automated shuttles in the transit system.— John Tory (@JohnTory) September 9, 2019
And so, in an effort to solve the pervasive first mile/last mile problem, Toronto is turning to bots. Sort of.
The forthcoming automated shuttle trial in Scarborough will be supervised by human drivers in the beginning, according to Tory.
"The vehicles will likely be all electric and almost entirely automated,"he said in a speech while announcing the pilot. "Though for learning purposes there will likely be a transit employee on board."
Public consultation on the trial is slated to begin this fall, and a route has already been decided upon: The shuttle will connect Scarborough's West Rouge community with the nearby Rouge Hill GO Station.
"Once the route is finalized following the public consultation with residents, we will be using AV technology to connect people to existing transit services in an area of the city that has no established
transit routes connecting that area to a nearby existing subway or regional rail service," said Tory.
The pilot is being realized with help from Metrolinx, the TTC and with funding from Canada's federal government.
If all goes well, the new automated transit shuttles will be up and running by September of 2020.
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