Driverless car tech company to conduct research in Squamish

Permanent location on oceanfront also possible

Squamish Chief
October 4, 2017

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Could driverless cars hit the road for testing in Squamish’s oceanfront development? 

The idea is still years off, but the District took the first step on Tuesday night.

Squamish councillors voted unanimously to enter into a formal agreement with Moovee Innovations Inc., a Vancouver-based company that develops technology for autonomous vehicles.

For now, the District has agreed to allow Moovee to mount up to 30 visual and wireless sensors to local lampposts that would collect data on local traffic patterns.

Moovee CEO Donald Wong said the size and location of Squamish made it ideal for the testing.

“Squamish is a relatively smaller city, so everything is easier to understand. It’s a growing city as well, so we can grow something, rather than try and go into a mess and try to clean it up,” said Wong. 

Sherry Huang, the director of the company, added that Moovee was excited about the positive response from the staff, councillors and the mayor.

“The support of the city is so important. Without all this, it would be impossible,” she said.

Moovee has agreed to share the collected data with the District to aid in transportation planning and no personal data will be collected, according to district staff. 

The 12-month agreement also includes potential for Moovee to use Squamish as a permanent location for research, development and manufacturing. 

In exchange, the District has agreed to absorb the cost of hydro required for Moovee’s sensors, estimated to be less than 30 watts per sensor when in operation. 

The District also won’t be charging the company anything to host them on district property.

Coun. Ted Prior joked that driverless cars could solve the district’s parking issues, but that dream is still a long way off since the B.C. government hasn’t approved testing on public roadways.

Wong said he’s optimistic about future testing and said they’ve already had a meeting with the developers behind the oceanfront project about potential future testing.

“It’s very exciting,” said Mayor Patricia Heintzman.

Heintzman said the district has worked hard trying to attract green technology to the community, including the possibility of a new University of British Columbia centre dedicated to clean-energy research.“This is just a first step, obviously we hope that these types of things grow into a bigger opportunity for Moovee and sustainable, future-focused economies for our community too. That’s obviously the bigger picture in all of this,” she said. “I’m also very interested to see what kind of data we can tease out of this to help with our evidence based decision making.”

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