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Vancouver and Surrey shortlisted for $50 million fund to build autonomous vehicle corridors

Last Updated Jun 3, 2018 at 5:46 pm PST

(City of Vancouver)

Innovative pitch gets Vancouver and Surrey shortlisted for $50 million fund

If built, corridors would be the first of it's kind in Canada

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Imagine getting to Granville Island from Science World in a self-driving car or bus without the risk of getting into a crash?

Vancouver and Surrey are a step closer to seeing a collision-free corridor with autonomous cars and smart technology in their city after a pitch for the project to the federal Infrastructure Canada Smart Cities Challenge was shortlisted for a $50 million fund.

“We intend to implement Canada’s first two collision-free corridors using autonomous vehicles and smart technologies for multi-modal transportation,” says Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson in a news release. “We look forward to working further with community stakeholders, experts and potential business partners to fine tune our proposal and hopefully secure the $50 million prize.”

The Vancouver corridor would extend from Granville Island to Science World while the Surrey one would connect key facilities and services to a major transit hub.

“Working collaboratively, we hope to demonstrate the path to safer, healthier and more connected communities while reducing emissions, improving transportation efficiency and enhancing livability in the face of rapid growth and traffic congestion,” says Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner in a news release.

Lawrence Frank, UBC Professor in Transportation and Public Health believes it’s time for a project like this.

“I think the purpose is to demonstrate to people how the technology works and how driverless cars operate and get people familiar with them as pedestrians and as drivers,” he says. “What driverless technology is like, what cars are like that are driven and operated and controlled primarily through electronic mechanisms.”

He says cities like Berlin have rolled out similar projects.

“There’s some, you know, fairly advanced research think tanks around the world that have been operating, for example, shuttles that are unpersoned or there’s no operators, they’re autonomous.”

There were 199 applicants to the Canada-wide Smart Cities Challenge. Out of the 16 submissions in the $50 million category, the joint submission by Vancouver and Surrey was selected as one of the five shortlisted for the top prize.    

The two cities have received $250,000 to further develop the idea into a final proposal, due winter 2019.