Whitby’s autonomous shuttle, Ollie, WAVEs goodbye as the project ends

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Published February 3, 2022 at 4:23 pm

Whitby’s autonomous shuttle bus, affectionately known as Olli, will stop ferrying passengers as the pilot project comes to an end.

The Town together with numerous numerous partners including; SmartCone Technologies, AutoGuardian by SmartCone, the Region of Durham, Durham Region Transit (DRT), Metrolinx, Nokia Canada and others have been operating the Whitby Autonomous Vehicle – Electric pilot since November.

After an early look at the shuttle, showcased the radar and lidar system that guide it, Olli began moving commuters from Rotary Sunrise Park to the Whitby Go station. The bus followed the six kilometre route at a maximum speed of 20 km/h with a safety attendant onboard.

The project was the first of its kind to be integrated into an existing transit system.

The pilot was halted after the bus lost control while heading south down Watson Street and crashed into a tree. The safety attendant, the lone occupant as the shuttle was not in service suffered critical injuries.

Later investigation revealed the bus was in manual mode when it crashed, meaning the safety features that detect an obstruction and stop the bus were turned off. The safety attendant is expected to make a full recovery.

Operation of the shuttle was suspended following the crash on December 17 until an investigation could be completed.

Olli manufacturer, Local Motors, closed in in January in a move unrelated to the crash.

Durham Region Transit announced the end of the pilot project on January 2 at Durham Region Transit Executive Committee. By the time of the announcement 250 passengers had ridden the WAVE shuttle while it traveled 2,390 kilometre in the last four months.

“The project has garnered valuable learnings on the technology capabilities and limitations, weather, accessibility, insurance and policy surrounding autonomous vehicle integration into public transit. Specific insights and data for the project are being compiled by the project partners” a release announcing the conclusion reads.

“Thank you to the team of provincial and local partners, sponsors, and staff for leading this innovative pilot, integrating smart technology into our roads,” said Durham Region Chair John Henry.

“The key learnings from this pilot can help inform the research and development of future transit networks in our communities, and across the world. Durham Region is proud to be part of this ground-breaking project,” he continued.

Whitby Mayor Don Mitchell said, “I would like to thank Whitby residents and all project partners for supporting this pilot that will help to advance autonomous and sustainable technologies and innovation, locally and around the world.”

“This project represented a number of local and global firsts and we were proud to have hosted it in our Town,” said Mitchell

“This partnership is a testament to the range of transit options that is possible when innovation meets collaboration. Thanks to all leaders and their talented teams for sharing this vision and executing the countless details that were required to demonstrate autonomous shuttle operations.” said Ajax Mayor Shaun Collier, who also chairs the Transit Executive Committee.

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