In a project led by the Connecticut Department of Transportation and New Flyer’s American subsidiary, ADL parent company New Flyer is to test the first self-driving transit buses in North America, but the Winnipeg-based company will trial the technology in Connecticut. The demonstration project will test three battery-electric transit buses, and aims to deploy them on the streets of Connecticut in 2022, said David Warren, New Flyer’s Director of Sustainable Transportation. David said that if the pilot project is a success, self-driving buses could eventually be used in Canada too: “We are headquartered in Canada, we do a good portion of our development work in Winnipeg, Anything we do in Connecticut will absolutely apply in Canada one day.”
At present, Canadian laws do not permit the testing of autonomous buses throughout the country, with only Ontario allowing the testing of self-driving vehicles on public roads.
David said that the operator plans to retain drivers on board during the pilot project: “It’s not necessary long term, but operators will be there for demonstration and safety measures,” he told the Winnepeg Free Press.
He said that Connecticut is a good location for the pilot project because it has rapid-transit lines and has separate lanes available for the project. “This is an incredible moment for the advancement of automated technology in public transit, and for the continued development of safe, smart, sustainable, and connected mobility across North America,” added Chris Stoddart, President of New Flyer.