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2009 International Bus Roadeo. Overview of Vehicle Assist and Automation (VAA) Technologies and Applications. Rob Gregg Director, Transit Management & Innovation NBRTI/CUTR/University South Florida. QUALITY TRANSIT -- NOW. What is VAA ?. “VAA systems are a cost effective solution to provide

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Overview of Vehicle Assist and Automation (VAA) Technologies and Applications

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2009 International Bus Roadeo

Overview of Vehicle Assist and Automation (VAA)Technologies and Applications

Rob Gregg

Director, Transit Management & Innovation

NBRTI/CUTR/University South Florida


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What is VAA ?

“VAA systems are a cost effective solution to provide

Rail like service at bus type prices using BRT vehicles

Equipped with inexpensive driver assist technologies”

  • Vehicle Assist: applications that help driver maintain control bus (driver always in control):

    • Precision Docking

    • Vehicle Guidance

  • Vehicle automation: applications that provide full automated control

    • Platooning

    • Automated Vehicle Operations

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VAA: An Enabler for BRT

Feasible Region

Level of Investment(e.g. Capital Cost, Operating Cost)

Heavy Rail


BRT with VAA

  • Fully Grade Separated

  • Roadway Shoulder Operations

  • At-Grade Transit-way

  • Designated Arterial

  • Urban Circulator

  • Suburban Collector



Los Angeles Metro Rapid

Los Angeles Local Bus

Level of Service/Performance Measure(e.g. Capacity, Operating Speed, Travel Time, etc.)

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PATH Magnetic Guidance SystemPATH/UC Berkley/Caltrans

  • Developed since 1987 and thoroughly tested

    • National Automated Highway Systems Consortium demonstration in San Diego in 1997

    • Field tested for Bus Rapid Transit on arterials

  • High performance

    • 10 cm lane keeping accuracy at highway speeds

    • 5 mm precision docking accuracy

  • Costs for infrastructure instrumentation: less than $20k per mile

5 mm = 0.196850 "

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Yaw rate gyro

PATH DGPS/INS/Magnet Based Guidance System

Steering actuator

Integrated DGPS/INS Unit

Magnetic Marker System

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Caltrans, together with AC Transit in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Lane Transit District (LTD) – Eugene Oregon, supported by PATH


Benefits of Lane Assist Technology :

Reduced Land Use

Reduced Impervious Surface

Minimize impact on Existing Land Uses

Reductions in Dwell Times at Stops

Reduced Travel Time

Safer Operation

Improved ADA Access

Rail-Like Image

  • To demonstrate the technical feasibility of lateral vehicle guidance and how vehicle guidance can improve transit agency operational efficiency, performance and service quality.

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VAA Demonstration Environment / Technology

  • Revenue Service Applications

    • AC Transit - Lateral guidance on an HOV lane and through a toll plaza

    • LTD - Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) transit way lateral guidance and precision docking at bus stops

  • Technologies Proposed

    • Magnetic marker sensing

    • Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) with inertial navigation sensors

    • Combination of the two

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AC Transit Proposed VAA Test Route: TransBay Express Bus Line M

  • 45ft. MCI Coach / Air Conditioned/ High Back Seating / Wi Fi

San Mateo Bridge

  • Service Bay using San Mateo (92) and Dumbarton Bridges (84)

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Application Environments

  • AC Transit Lane M

    • 4 miles HOV on Route 92

    • Narrow toll plaza on San Mateo Bridge

    • Positioning Bike Racks (4 Bikes, 2 per bay) and wheelchair lifts

    • Diverse urban & suburban local streets

    • Poor road conditions (trees, narrow roadways, tight turns)

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  • 63-foot articulated bus

  • New Flyer

  • Hybrid-electric propulsion

  • Doors on left and right side

  • Bikes on board


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Application Environments

  • Lane Transit BRT

    • Four-mile corridor & eight stations

      • 15.5-minute travel time

      • 10 minute service (except late at night)

    • (1) 60 ft New Flyer BRT buses

  • Technology to be tested

    • Magnetic guidance along dedicated lane segments

    • Precision docking

    • Collection of DGPS data for verification for lane assist and precision docking in urban area

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Median traversable Transit Lane

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Other VAA Demonstrations

  • Minneapolis Urban Partnership Agreement (UPA) Lane Assist

    • Shoulder Running: Cedar Avenue (TH 77) – Cross-town Commons (TH 62) – I-35W

    • Differential GPS & Non-contact Velocity Measurement Technique (to augment DGPS)

    • Development Underway

  • SANDAG Transit Only Lane (TOL)

    • Shoulder Running: I-805

    • Technology TBD

    • Proposals Received

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Minnesota Lane Assist Project

  • System component procurement / design complete.

  • The DGPS Virtual Reference Station Network is operational with 5 of 6 base stations connected.

  • The driving simulator purchased / Operational spring of 2009.

  • The U of MN HumanFIRST program has initiated the development of the training protocol, both for the simulator portion of the training program, and for the on-road portion of the training protocol.

  • New steering feedback system designed, and is under development.

  • Operational 2010

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SANDAG San Diego VAA Project: TOL (Transit Only Lane)

  • 21 Miles of Freeway Shoulder Operations.

    • Introduces this new transit service along a 20 mile stretch of the I-805 corridor (42 miles round trip)

  • Provide drivers with assistive technologies but ensure they retain ultimate control.

  • Utilize combination of sensors to support situational awareness, lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control functions.

  • Builds on the successful technology demonstrations in 1997 and 2003 in San Diego.

  • Request for Proposals: Winter 2008 – currently evaluating proposals

  • Begin Design & Construction: Spring 2009

  • Begin Service: Spring 2010

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VAA: Potential Capital Cost Benefits: Narrow Right of Way

  • Standard Bus width 8.5. ft. + mirrors

  • Standard Highway Lane Width = 12 ft.

  • Automatic Steering Reduces Lateral Tracking Errors to 10 cm or less on straight roads and moderate curves

  • Reduction cost for Bus ROW & Construction?

  • Bridges and Tunnels?

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Envisioned Customer / Operational Benefits

  • “Rail-Like” Experience

  • Easy Access, ADA Feature, Bicycle Use Improvement

  • Reduce Boarding / Dwell Time

  • Reduce System / Vehicle Damage

  • Reduce Operating / Maintenance Costs

  • Improve Travel Time, Safety and Productivity

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VAA Advisory Panel (VAAAP)

  • Peer Transit Agencies

  • Technology Experts

  • User Market Interest Groups

  • Industry Manufacturers

Technology / Information Transfer

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Thank You!

Rob Gregg

Director, Transit Management & Innovation

NBRTI/CUTR/University South Florida


Wei-Bin Zhang,

PATH / University of California, Berkeley wbzhang@path.berkeley.edu

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