Olli is here to learn.
Toronto’s first automated transit vehicle will soon drive itself through southeastern Scarborough, remembering its daily and weekend routes to and from Rouge Hill GO Station.
The city, Ontario’s transit agency Metrolinx and TTC want to know what people think of Olli and how Olli moves in mixed traffic.
Olli, if its slow, quiet walks through the West Rouge neighborhood go well between October and February 28, it may help change our journey.
Olli does not want to spy on people. Although the cameras record 360 degrees around the bus, they are blurred so “no house numbers, no license plates” and no faces will be recognizable, just shapes, says Jennifer Niece, senior project manager for TTC.
COVID-19 did not stop this five-month experiment, but Olli, who can carry eight people, will not pick up more than four or five, and only people from the same household.
This means that many passengers will be alone apart from Olli’s human companion while Olli drives to the station, the Rouge Marsh in the Rouge National Urban Park, the West Rouge Community Center or three other stops.
“Service to the community is not going to be at the level we had hoped for,” Niece told People at an online information meeting on September 14th.
Olli is fully accessible, but when a passenger is in a wheelchair, only one or two others from that household can ride.
Passengers must book rides in Olli at toronto.ca/AVshuttle.
For the time being, passengers cannot book a return trip in the evening when booking a morning trip. People at the meeting pointed out that this could be a problem as the home on the West Rouge route is not near the TTC service.
An event on September 25 will introduce interested residents to Olli, but not allow them to drive in it.
Olli will be careful about obstacles on the road and objects that may cross in front of it. It has a “very limited” ability to juxtapose obstacles without its human companion taking control.
Olli gets his own little bay by the station bus district. Its weekend route has fewer stops turning around the community center.
Olli, whose ground clearance is not impressive, is expected to run until February, depending on how it performs in the winter.
Olli has difficulty operating in heavy rain or snow and may be out of order on very cold days. “It’s all part of the learning,” Niece said.
After February, asphalt platforms for the West Rouge will stop and warning signs referring to Olli will be removed.