FTA Awards 11.6 Million to Fund Transit Bus Automation Projects

The US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced 11.6 million USD in funding to support six transit bus automation research projects.

These projects are expected to improve safety, efficiency and accessibility on the road and in bus maintenance yards.

For example, the projects include strategies for avoiding collisions with pedestrians, improving emergency braking and enhancing precision movements for bus fuelling, charging and maintenance.

Automated Buses on Connecticut’s CTfastrak BRT route
Automated Buses on Connecticut’s CTfastrak BRT route
FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez said:

“Advancements in technology can go a long way toward creating a safer and more efficient transit system. The innovative research projects we are funding represent an important step toward integrating state-of-the-art automation technology into real-world settings, helping transit agencies protect their operators and riders as well as vulnerable road users.”

As part of the funded programmes, recipients will demonstrate technologies to reduce bus collisions, improve facility operations and increase accessibility and efficiency of service.

Many of these projects will also include workforce analysis and training activities to address how automation may impact existing jobs, while helping operators and maintenance workers develop new skills.

The selected automation projects include:

CapMetro in Austin, Texas will receive nearly 950,000 USD to integrate vehicle automation in an advanced yard management system.

Connecticut Department of Transportation will receive 2 million USD to expand a transit automation programme along the CTfastrak bus rapid transit corridor. This project will incorporate collision avoidance and precision docking assistance.

The University of Alabama will receive 2 million USD to test automation technologies for large transit buses using a lab simulation and real-world tests. This project aims to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness and equity impacts of the technology.

Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority will receive nearly 893,000 USD to retrofit a bus to operate autonomously. This will allow tasks in bus yards to be done more efficiently, such as through automated parking.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University will receive more than 4.5 million USD to publicly demonstrate and collect data on automatic braking and pedestrian collision avoidance technologies.

Colorado Department of Transportation will receive over 1.2 million USD to demonstrate ADAS technology in three retrofitted buses that serve rural transit routes.

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