A driverless shuttle in Surrey. (File photo)

Driverless shuttle project in Surrey/Vancouver loses Smart Cities Challenge

$50M in funding was up for grabs in Canada-wide competition

A joint Surrey/Vancouver bid to create Canada’s first two “collision free multi-modal corridors” using automated shuttles was not the winner of the nation’s Smart Cities Challenge.

The competition winners were announced Tuesday (May 14) at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, with a project in Montreal (involving “mobility and access to food”) named winner of the top prize.

The Surrey/Vancouver proposal had hoped to share $50 million to create its project.

The proposed networks in Surrey and Vancouver were to be located near SkyTrain Stations, essentially expanding the driverless transit network in the region.

Tuesday’s announcement was live-streamed on Infrastructure Canada’s Youtube channel.

• RELATED STORY: A closer look at driverless shuttles proposed in Surrey, Vancouver, from December 2018.

Four Canadian communities won prizes to cap Canada’s first-ever Smart Cities Challenge, a two-year competition designed to encourage communities across the country “to harness the potential of technology and data to improve the lives of Canadians.”

The cash prizes – one worth $5 million, two of $10 million each and one of $50 million – will be used by the winners to turn their visions into reality.

For the top prize, the Surrey/Vancouver proposal was among five of 16 shortlisted to receive Infrastructure Canada funding. There were 199 applicants from across the county, and of 16 submissions, the Surrey/Vancouver bid made the top five along with projects in Edmonton, Quebec City, Waterloo and Montreal.

CLICK HERE to read the complete Surrey/Vancouver proposal.

In Surrey and Vancouver, the projects would incorporate “Intelligent Transportation Systems, adaptive traffic signals and controls, advanced traffic cameras, smart crossing, smart parking, interactive kiosks, (and) travel time information.”

Two pilot projects proposed in Surrey would be activated in two phases.

Phase one would be a “University Drive Pilot” that would include run for one year along University Drive from roughly 102nd and 108th avenues, primarily separated from traffic. It would be a “1.2-kilometre dedicated autonomous vehicle demonstration route in the heart of Surrey City Centre, linking Surrey Central SkyTrain Station with Gateway SkyTrain Station.”

If created, it would “deploy automated shuttles in exclusive rights-of-way to allow for changes in legislation that will permit on-road deployment of automated vehicles” and “capitalize on opportunities to pilot enhanced safety technologies, (and) familiarize city operations with autonomous vehicle technology.”

The two collision-free corridors — Vancouver’s South False Creek Innovation Corridor and the Surrey Innovation Corridor — would aim to achieve a number of outcomes including “improved safety, reduced emissions, healthier communities, increased availability of mobility options, more socially connected communities, increased accessibility to the community higher people-moving capacity, an enhanced travel experience.”

with files from Amy Reid

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