Whitby autonomous bus was in manual mode at the time of crash according to DRPS

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Published January 5, 2022 at 2:38 pm

The Whitby Automated Vehicle – Electric (WAVE) shuttle bus, otherwise known as Olli, was in manual mode when it crashed into a tree on December 16, seriously injuring the safety attendant on board.

The WAVE travelled a six-kilometre route from Rotary Sunrise Park to the Whitby GO station offering a shuttle service to commuters in the first pilot project of its kind in North America to be integrated into an existing transit system. Olli’s speed was capped a 20 km/h.

It was travelling along this route when the vehicle lost control going southbound on Watson Street South. The WAVE crossed the northbound lane before leaving the roadway and ramming into a tree.

The lone occupant at the time, the safety attendant, 23, suffered life-threatening injuries from the crash and was rushed to a Toronto trauma centre.

Police arrived on scene at around 4 p.m. closing the street down for several hours to collect evidence. Since the crash resulted in a workplace injury, the Ontario Ministry of Labour brought in to investigate as well.

In the course of their investigation, DRPS concluded the WAVE was in manual mode when it lost control, meaning the safety protocols that often resulted in abrupt stops when radar and lidar sensors registered obstructions were offline.

These protocols were designed to make Olli “more cautious” than a human driver, according to AutoGuardian CEO Tenille Houston, who’s company spearheaded the project alongside partners such as, AutoGardian parent company SmartCone, the Town of Whitby, Durham Region, Nokia, Metrolinx, Durham College and Ontario Tech University.

The safety attendant was later released from hospital and continues to recover. He is expected to make a full recovery, according to police.

The Durham Police Collision Unit continues to investigate the crash. Anyone with information can call D/Cst. Limb at 905-579-1520 (toll free 1-888-579-1520) ext. 5226, or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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