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Research Project
Automated Transit Technologies: Identifying Challenges and Potential Market for Applications

Transit operations in United States in multiple cities have been experimenting with various initial stages of vehicle automation (or mostly called driver assist systems) in transit vehicles such as GPS-based lane-keep assist systems, collision avoidance systems, guidance system for precise docking in Bus Rapid Transit etc. Currently all these available vehicle automation technologies need the presence of a driver/vehicle operator for performing majority of the vehicle driving operations. Transit automation technologies if practiced and successful, can greatly enhance the mobility and quality of life of residents (Transit Connected Vehicle Research Program, USDOT). Further, autonomous vehicles could also significantly change livability in small urban and rural areas by providing access to transportation services in a more cost effective-manner. CitiMobil2 and NAVYA are two driverless and fully automated transit shuttles currently used in European Cities, which are also being demonstrated and tested in Netherlands, Singapore, and the United States.

While various levels of transit automation technologies are currently being available, and more advanced versions are supposed to hit the market very soon, it is important to identify and understand the transit automation technologies in the context of transit agency's need for implementing these technologies. At the same time, it is also important to understand the requirements and challenges for transit automation gathered from transit agencies, transit planners, and State DOTs; requirements, inputs, and challenges gathered nationally from transit experts would be a very useful resource for vehicle manufacturers for producing optimized-automated transit technologies tailored to meet the needs of transit agencies and transit operators. While some stages of transit automation can get challenging in urban communities/big cities because of high congestion, they could be more practical and applicable to smaller communities (small urban areas and rural areas) considering the ease of operations and much less number of vehicle-vehicle interactions, and vehicle-pedestrian interactions.

The results from the study will be a useful resource for any transit agency and/or small urban/rural transit agency to understand the insights of US transit experts towards upcoming technology advances in transit industry. At the same time, the results from the study will also serve as valuable resource for vehicle manufacturers to better design their upcoming automated transit vehicle technologies that can effectively meet the needs of transit agencies, and ultimately the transit riders.

NDSU Dept 2880P.O. Box 6050Fargo, ND 58108-6050