April 29, 2008

Automated Buses Get Tested in San Leandro

PATH automated bus The California Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways (PATH) is testing vehicle guidance technologies on a bus on a stretch of E. 14th Street in San Leandro from 140th Avenue to 150th Avenue.

The vehicle guidance system consists of "magnetic markers embedded in the lane center" that are detected by magnetometers mounted under the bus as it moves along the street. Based on the strength of the magnetic field, an onboard computer steers the bus to keep it properly positioned within the lane and at bus stops.

Video of the bus being tested in San Leandro has been posted on YouTube:

Testing started in February 2008 and is being performed several times per month, usually during the early morning hours. According to Associate Research Engineer Han-Shue Tan, a driver is always present during the testing, but as can be seen in the video, the driver is only a backup to the computer-controlled guidance system.

According to documentation provided by Tan, the test site was chosen because it is part of the planned route for AC Transit's Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service, it is part of SR-185, for which CalTrans has responsibility, and it's a representative urban corridor.

If the testing is successful, it should make BRT "more competitive with rail transit quality of service," reduce the right-of-way needed for buses, and reduce the "width of future truck-only highway facilities so that they should cost less to build and require less right of way."

More information about PATH can be found at http://www.path.berkeley.edu/ and Transit Operations Research at http://www.path.berkeley.edu/PATH/Research/currenttransit.html.

Posted by Mike Katz-Lacabe at April 29, 2008 10:26 PM | TrackBack
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