WINNIPEG -- It might not be long before people can get on a bus that doesn't have a driver.

Winnipeg-based New Flyer is going to be the first company to test self-driving buses in North America.

David Warren, who is the director of sustainable transportation for New Flyer, said the project will take place in Connecticut and the Department of Transportation there will lead it.

Warren said the goal is to have buses built within the next year and then have them ready to hit the road for testing by 2022.

He added that the buses will be able to operate through a technology called Lidar.

"Lidar is a system for measuring distances and determining through light wavelengths what the digital representation is of the object that is sensed," said Warren.

He said Lidar is a form of radar, but noted the difference is radar uses sound.

"Through this combination of Lidar and radar, we can sense the surrounding while driving and utilize artificial intelligence, or programming, to determine what the situation is and how to react to the environment."

He added on top of the Lidar, the buses will be electric.

When the buses eventually hit the streets of Connecticut for testing, Warren said there will be operators on the bus as an extra safety precaution.


Warren said once the testing process is complete, the buses could start to make their way north of the border to operate in Canadian cities.

"I fully expect we will see cities such as Winnipeg, Toronto, Vancouver have automated vehicles."

He said the main thing cities will have to figure out is regulatory procedures when it comes to how to use them. He added New Flyer can help with the technology side of the process, but cities and industries will need to tackle the regulations.