Taking new set of wheels for a spin
Grandmother tries out the Electric Autonomous vehicle for the first time
Edmontonians got their first chance to cruise around in a driverless vehicle Tuesday, including a woman whose first ride in a car was during the Second World War.
“The driverless car is something really new in development. For the last 100 years, they have been developing what they had already invented. They had invented wheels that went around a long time ago, and they invented radio and brakes,” said Nora Theobald. “But this thing has a mind, and it’s a little bit frightening.”
Theobald, 87 — this reporter’s grandmother — sat in wide-eyed wonderment as she was taxied around Blatchford Field in the Electric Autonomous vehicle (ELA), as part of one of the first electric autonomous vehicle pilot projects in Western Canada.
“It’s an experience of the advancement of human ability that will be unmatched for another 1,000 years maybe,” said Theobald.
ELA, an EZ10 shuttle bus manufactured by EasyMile, operates completely autonomously
— no driver, no steering wheel and no brake pedals — rolling along a preprogrammed route at around 12 km/h, navigating obstacles using sensors, lasers and cameras. “Getting to experience this cutting-edge technology is very exciting,” said Mayor Don Iveson, in a press release shared with media after the ELA started taking passengers
While younger generations may grow up without thinking twice about climbing aboard a car without a driver, Theobald recalls the first time she rode in a car, evacuating her home in England during the Second World War.
“They took us all, pinned our name (on our coats), and did not tell us or our parents
where we were going. Piled us into a funeral van and took us off to the railway station,” she said.
For her 87th birthday, the only thing Theobald asked for was a ride in a driverless car.
“It was an incredible experience. It was really incredible.”
Nora Theobald was one of the first to ride the Electric Autonomous vehicle as part of one of the first pilot studies of the vehicle in Western Canada.