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Rogers Partners on 5G Autonomous Shuttle

WATERLOO, Canada — The 5G wireless network by Rogers is powering a new autonomous shuttle on a university campus.

The University of Waterloo is demonstrating the operation of its driverless shuttle that will transport students and staff, according to Rogers last month.

The shuttle, named the WATonoBus by the research team, is part of a research program and marks a milestone in a multi-year initiative to integrate autonomous transportation on the campus.

It is the first shuttle in the country to operate remotely over Rogers’ 5G network, due to a partnership with Rogers and the university to advance 5G research in the Toronto-Waterloo tech corridor. 

The WATonoBus

The shuttle follows a five-stop, 2.7-kilometer route around the Waterloo campus, intersecting with the campus light rail transit stop. It holds the potential to help reshape how communities in Canada move around in urban spaces, according to Rogers.

The University of Waterloo's autonomous shuttle, WATonoBus. Courtesy Rogers.

The University of Waterloo's autonomous shuttle, the WATonoBus. Courtesy Rogers.

The WATonoBus includes various technologies: an integrated on-board sensor system providing vehicle intelligence and control; a suite of front, rear and side cameras providing a 360-degree view; light detection and ranging (LIDAR) active remote sensing systems for detecting objects; and a smartphone app to help passengers navigate the campus using the shuttle.

Permitted testing

The university's driverless shuttle system requires approval from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) before it can begin as a regular service.

Currently, the University of Waterloo is a participant in Ontario’s Automated Vehicle Pilot Program, which permits the testing of driverless autonomous vehicles (AVs) on Ontario roads, if a safety operator is on board.

Partners on the project

Several companies have made contributions to the program to make the WATonoBus a reality: Applanix, RoboSense AI, and Rogers.

Funding support has also been provided by several federal and provincial partners: the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, Ontario Research Fund, and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.

“By marrying transformational research, infrastructure, and a network of industry and government partnerships, we are demonstrating that educational institutions will help shape the future – in this case, the convergence of public transportation and smart urban mobility,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor, University of Waterloo. 

Last September, Rogers “lit up” the university’s 5G smart campus to support researchers developing 5G applications and use cases in a real-world setting. 

“Today’s demonstration represents over four years of work with support and collaboration with government and industry partners,” Professor Amir Khajepour said.

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Rogers, 5G, autonomous vehicles