Could Driverless Shuttles Make Their Way to Mississauga?


Published October 1, 2018 at 12:09 pm


A recent story out in out in Alberta got my attention on whether this particular transportation mode could be viable in Canada’s sixth largest city.

Calgary recently launched a pilot project for a driverless shuttle servicing residents and a similar project has also been launched in neighbouring Edmonton.

The 12-passenger vehicle will begin transporting people between the Calgary Zoo and the Telus Spark science centre along a separate roadway free of other vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. The trip will take roughly 3 and a half minutes from one side to the other, and will be open to online bookings and walk-ups.

“We use our high precision technology that navigates to about two centimetres’ precision to keep the vehicle on its track,” explained Jonathan Auld, vice-president of engineering with Hexagon Positioning Intelligence, on how the vehicle navigates its path using signals it receives from about 20 satellites orbiting Earth.

That would be similar to how a GPS works but with greater accuracy.

While the zoo and Telus centre in Calgary are right next to each other, hence the short duration of the trip and the convenience, it’s not that far fetched to contemplate whether such a service, at least within the confines of a pilot project, could take place in Mississauga.

For Mississauga, there isn’t a local zoo, but there are some major community nodes and hubs that could use such a service to shuttle people back and forth, albeit at a greater distance than the route in Calgary.

Here are some suggested routes for a driverless shuttle to operate in Mississauga.

University of Toronto (Mississauga) to Central Library

As you can see, it would be an 8 minute drive from UTM to the Central Library location, the added bonus being that a potential library drop off point for a driverless shuttle service is right next to Square One. Many university students would need to get to the library after classes to study or work on an assignment, if they choose not to do so on campus.

Meadowvale Town Centre to Meadowvale GO / Lisgar GO stations

You’re not going to be seeing a decrease in GO train usage in Mississauga any time soon. But these days it’s a chore to even get to the station, let alone the trip to Union Station, especially from all the way up in northwest Mississauga.

The reason for including two routes from the Town Centre to the two closest GO train stations is it would be better to diversify the service so you are not overwhelming one station with all the commuters using only one stop to access the GO train.

Square One to Heartland Town Centre

This idea is to appeal strictly for weekend shoppers who realize they might find something they wanted at Square One, but then realized that only the Heartland Town Centre has something else they need, and they happen to live in one of the towers near Square One and don’t have a car to drive themselves to Heartland.

Then again, with the parking mess up in Heartland, it may be safer to just carpool with a friend to go to Heartland; trying to get around that entire area from one side of Mavis or Britannia to the other is a pedestrian’s nightmare.

Pearson Airport to Mount Dennis LRT Station (Toronto)

This is more of a future examination as Toronto’s Smarttrack is, more or less, underway in terms of getting built. Currently, Toronto Mayor John Tory’s much touted major transit infrastructure project extends only to Mount Dennis station in the west, but many people have called for it to be extended farther into Etobicoke or even Mississauga via Pearson Airport .

Assuming that Smarttrack is up and running now, the driverless shuttle pilot could be some joint project between Mississauga and Toronto to provide a linkage for the LRT to the airport until an extension of the LRT from the west at Mount Dennis all the way to Pearson becomes a more concrete idea coming to fruition.

Mississauga Celebration Square to Port Credit GO

There is no quick and fast link between the Square One area and Port Credit, and both areas have an abundance of festivals all year round. During this past summer’s annual rotary ribfest, MiWay had temporary shuttle service from Celebration Square to Port Credit for attendees who wanted to go but didn’t want to drive down to Port Credit and deal with the parking situation.

Until the LRT is finished, the driverless shuttle idea could be an interesting pilot project to run during the summer months when all these festivals, besides ribfest, are happening so as to give easier access for those who want to go to either location from the preceding location.

There are other suggestions I have not mapped here, such as shuttle service between Square One to the Britannia Farms as that property is slated to become something akin to Black Creek Pioneer Village with some mixed use development, or even Centennial Park.

Are there other routes in Mississauga that you think could use a driverless shuttle? Do you think this idea could work in Mississauga?

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