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In the Fall of 2018, the City conducted one of the first electric autonomous vehicle pilot projects in Western Canada. We’ve partnered with Pacific Western Transportation (PWT) to bring the Electric Autonomous vehicle (ELA), to Edmonton with the goal of gathering feedback from Edmontonians about Autonomous Vehicles and facilitating cold weather testing at the University of Alberta.

About the Project


Electric Autonomous Shuttle (ELA) was one of the first Electric Autonomous Shuttle experiences open to the public in Canada. PWT (Pacific Western Transportation), in partnership with the City of Edmonton, showcased the latest in Electric Autonomous Shuttle technology.

ELA is manufactured by EasyMile, one of the leading autonomous vehicle technology companies with autonomous shuttles deployed in over 20 countries across Asia-Pacific, the Middle-East, North America, and Europe.

About ELA

  • Operates 100% autonomous and is powered by electricity
  • Can carry up to 12 passengers
  • Accessible to everyone with its built-in access ramp for mobility challenged passengers
  • Can operate on fixed or on-demand routes
  • Can operate on existing roadways with no additional infrastructure required
  • Supervised by a PWT operator


Autonomous vehicles are also known as driverless cars, self-driving cars, robotic cars or automated vehicles. A fully automated vehicle is capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input. It can detect its surroundings using a variety of techniques, such as radar, GPS and computer vision.

Simple models based on Edmonton vehicle statistics suggest that if adoption is very rapid, fully automated vehicles could make up a large part of the vehicles on the road within 15 to 20 years. If the pace is slower, it could take 30+ years for fully automated vehicles to make up the majority of cars on Edmonton roads.

There are 6 levels of driving automation: 

  • Level 0: No automation, human driver monitors driving environment.
  • Level 1: Driver assistance, human driver monitors driving environment but some functions can be done automatically by the car, like steering or accelerating, for example.
  • Level 2: Partial automation, human driver monitors driving environment and must be ready to take control of the vehicle when necessary.
  • Level 3: Conditional automation, automated driving system monitors driving environment. Driver is present and can take over but is not required to monitor the car.
  • Level 4: High automation, automated driving system monitors driving environment. Vehicle performs all safety-critical functions and monitors the roadway, but does not cover every driving scenario.
  • Level 5: Full automation, automated driving system monitors driving environment. Does not require a human driver and car function is equal to that of a human driver.

GM, Ford and Tesla are working on automated cars. Tesla “Autopilot” is considered Level 2 automation.

Level 4 automated light-duty electric shuttles have been tested and implemented in parts of Europe, Japan and the US.

Level 5 automation (fully automated vehicles that don’t require a human driver) is not yet available, and is expected to emerge between 5 years and decades from now.

Level 4 automated vehicle technology performs all safety-critical functions and is currently available.

Predictions about when Level 5 automation will be available vary. Uber expects its entire fleet to be driverless by 2030.


The safety of Edmontonians is our top priority and we worked with Alberta Transportation to meet or exceed the requirements needed to ensure the pilot project operated safely.

The shuttles’ driverless technology comes with collision avoidance systems that detect other vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and obstacles. It is also equipped with multiple safety features for braking, entry and exit of the vehicle.

To ensure public safety during the pilots, a trained operator was in the vehicle to stop the vehicle at any point. The vehicle operates at a maximum of 12 km/h, is fully accessible and can hold up to a maximum of 12 persons including the operator (6 seated and 6 standing).


The pilot project allowed us to test 3 technologies:

  • Automation
  • Connectedness
  • Electrification

The shuttle was tested at the University of Alberta on one of the City’s Active-Aurora connected test beds where it was able to receive and send data to the connected vehicle technology. This pilot project provided additional research opportunities for the Active-Aurora program including cold weather testing and cyber security. 

The City is currently a testing location for a research project called Active-Aurora. The project is led by the University of Alberta Centre for Smart Transportation and the University of British Columbia. It is the first of its kind in Canada and its purpose is to advance connected vehicle technology. Connected vehicles use wireless mobile devices to exchange information in real time with roadside equipment like traffic lights or message signs and with other vehicles. 

Our Partners and Sponsors

This innovative pilot project was brought to you by the City of Edmonton, our partners and our sponsors.

For More Information

311 Contact Centre

Online Contact 311 Online

In Edmonton: 311
Outside Edmonton: 780-442-5311

TTY 780-944-5555

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