Whitby driverless shuttle bus crashes, worker critically injured

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Published December 16, 2021 at 10:27 pm

Photo Colin Williamson

The cause of how it happened is unknown, but Whitby’s self-driving electric shuttle bus crashed into a tree on Thursday, critically injuring the attendance.

Known both as Olli and the WAVE (for Whitby Autonomous Vehicle Electric) and operated by Durham Region Transit in Whitby, the vehicle crashed on Watson Street, near the Whitby GO station it services. The Durham Regional Police Service said Watson Street West is closed at Victoria St. W. Because the male operator was badly injured and taken to a trauma centre, the Ontario Ministry of Labour is investigating because it was a workplace injury.

It is believed there was no one else aboard Olli when the crash occurred. The bus has a top speed of 20 km/h, but its developers have noted it is known to make abrupt stops.

The WAVE traverses a programmed six-kilometre route from the Whitby GO station, around Whitby Harbour, to Rotary Sunrise Park. The attendant applies a brake if necessary. The bus guided by radar and lidar sensors around the outside of the vehicle that warn the WAVE of any obstructions in the roadway. It does not emit carbon emissions and capable of running in light rain and light snow conditions.

The intent of the vehicle is to reduce the need of GO riders to use personal cars that burn fossil fuels in order to get to the station.

The pilot project was undertaken by SmartCone Technologies, AutoGuardian by SmartCone, the Town of Whitby, Region of Durham, Durham Region Transit (DRT), Metrolinx, Nokia Canada and other partners. The aim is to see how new technologies can contribute to sustainable transit and traffic operations.

— with files from Liam David and Glenn Hendry

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