Vancouver-based startup to compete in EU autonomous transit experiment

Spare, a tech startup based in Vancouver, which incepted as a carpooling platform, is reportedly on a team competing to build systems for an experiment dealing with self-operated and on-demand transit services in Europe.

As per trusted sources, Spare is part of a Norwegian/Canadian consortium designated as one of the five competitors in an experiment supported by the European Union to test fleets of automated buses across six different cities.

Kristoffer Vik Hansen, CEO of Spare, said in a statement that the Norway based team invited his startup to join in, under the name SAGA, based on its expertise in incorporating its technology to on-demand services-scheduling for public transportation services in Norway’s Oslo and Stavanger areas.

Hansen further stated that this invitation indicates that people are confident with what the startup has achieved so far and that Vancouver is witnessing the development of some seriously good technology.

Reportedly, Spare’s service known as Spare Rides was launched in 2016 and ran till early 2018 with the approval from BC Transportation Board. The board’s rules permit carpooling services like Spare’s only if it involved passengers and vehicles heading to common destinations, cite sources.

According to Hansen, once the startup established its platform, it wasn’t a big stretch to apply the same method to other types of transit systems. The idea behind Spare Rides is, instead of passengers relying on fixed bus schedules and routes, buses can run when a passenger books a ride via an app, phone, or website, Hansen stated.  The system further collects data to build a data-first approach and have a more flexible transit schedule whether it is planning the most effective routes or deciding when it is appropriate to run strictly on demand and even provide door-to-door service, he added.

Spare will be providing passenger booking, vehicle-routing, and dispatching system as a part of SAGA in the EU-funded experiment for FABULOS program, which will build the most promising ideas into prototypes for lab testing in 2019, sources reported.