READ AT THE LONDON FREE PRESS
A sizable federal investment will see the province’s first net-zero community — one that produces as much energy it consumes — receive an automatic valet system for electric vehicles, London West MP Kate Young announced Wednesday.
St. Jacobs-based smart community developer s2e Technologies is receiving $2.4 million from Ottawa to test a parking system that will automatically park and deliver shared electric vehicles to residents of West 5, a Sifton Proprieties neighbourhood in northwest London.
National Resources Canada has provided $11.14 million in funding for five clean energy projects in London this year — four of which received funding in the last 2½ months.
In all of 2018, the federal department provided $1.05 million in funding to just two London-area projects.
“By investing in state-of-the-art technology like autonomous vehicles, we’re ensuring Canada is at the forefront of the latest automotive innovations,” Young said, adding technological infrastructure “ensures our transition toward a low-carbon economy.”
This s2e project will take form as eight four-storey parking towers, each holding about 10 to 12 autonomous vehicles, at the edge of West 5 along Oxford Street West, said s2e president Milfred Hammerbacher.
Here’s the gist: residents needing a car request it via an app on their cellphones. The parking tower’s control system then dispatches a driverless, fully charged vehicle right to their doorsteps.
Hammerbacher said s2e’s autonomous valet service is the first of its kind, and extends what small-scale communities are capable of in an increasingly low-carbon environment.
“We’re pushing the envelope for what is possible,” he said. “Each step we take in building smart communities and imagining smart mobility brings us close to the kind of sustainable development that will better the environment.”
Ottawa’s investment, funded through its Green Infrastructure Program, will be devoted to research and prototype development for the project, Hammerbacher said. It will help researchers, for instance, find the most effective way for electric cars to drive and charge themselves, and whether they meet consumers’ demands.
The $2.4 million s2e receives will be supplemented by $40 million the company has committed to the initiative, the bulk of which is going toward constructing the towers.
Hammerbacher said the eight towers will be built in what s2e has called Eve Park, a 1.4-hectare parcel of land at the edge of Sifton’s 28-hectare West 5.
Although no date has been formally set, Hammerbacher estimates construction of the towers will begin in early 2020.