The stretch between the TELUS Spark and Calgary Zoo parking lots has become a lot more autonomous.

The city has launched an autonomous shuttle pilot with the help of a 12-passenger vehicle named ELA (or Electronic Autonomous) operated by pilot partner and Calgary-based Pacific Western Transportation, with positioning intelligence from Calgary-based Hexagon Positioning Intelligence.

 ELA is the first fully-autonomous vehicle in Calgary and one of the first in Canada.

 “Calgary is a city that has been built around cars; one of the findings that the city is extremely interested in [with this pilot] is what ELA brings in terms of innovation and how this reflects future city builds and transportation”, said Michael Thompson, General Manager of Transportation, City of Calgary.

ELA is 100 per cent electric with charging powered by ATCO. The wireless connections utilized are provided by TELUS. ELA navigates her surroundings with 3D mapping and localization systems using data from four LiDar sensors combined with video cameras to evaluate environments in real-time.

ELA’s technology has been proven safe and reliable in more than 170 deployments around the world.

“The future that we dreamed about as kids is here,” shared MP Kent Hehr at the official ELA launch. “Autonomous vehicles will have an ever-lasting impact on how we travel and get products to market. As we look forward, autonomous technology will support not only transportation but trade, economic growth and clean tech.”

Under the Living Labs strategy, the City of Calgary is working with Calgary Economic Development to make public spaces, transportation corridors and land accessible to testing technology innovation. ELA is an opportunity to test the long-term feasibility of autonomous technology as part of the city’s 30-year transportation plan.

Hehr also announced a $290,000 commitment to the City to establish a connected vehicle pilot along 16 Ave N, to allow familiarization with connected vehicle technologies, support shorter travel times and ensure safety for emergency vehicles.

From September 8 to 30, Calgarians are invited to test out the future of transportation and take a ride with ELA. TELUS Spark will also be unveiling a new temporary display to ignite conversations about the future of autonomous vehicles as a mode of transportation.

Following the Calgary pilot, ELA will move to Edmonton for further testing in our Northern climate.

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