University of Minnesota Driven to Discover
U of MNUniversity of Minnesota
Center for Transportation Studies

Driver-assistive technologies for Bus Rapid Transit

bus driverResearchers at the University of Minnesota are developing new technologies to make Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) transportation networks a reality in congested urban areas like Minneapolis-St. Paul. A group led by Craig Shankwitz, head of the ITS Institute’s Intelligent Vehicles Program, has released a two-volume research report detailing its work on driver-assistive systems that enable buses to operate in narrow lanes and on bus-only road shoulders.

The Minnesota research was carried out in response to the needs of Metro Transit, the Twin Cities’ transit agency, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which together operate a BRT-like system on freeway shoulders in the metro area. These shoulders are only slightly wider than a standard passenger bus, so operating at relatively high speeds places high demands on bus operators. The researchers’ goal was to develop technologies that would make it easier and safer for drivers to operate in narrow lanes, even at night or in inclement weather.

Technologies explored by the research team include advanced vehicle navigation using high-accuracy GPS, providing haptic feedback to the driver through the steering wheel to help maintain position in the narrow lane; a head-up display that enhances the driver’s ability to see lane boundaries and other vehicles under low-visibility conditions using an on-board geospatial database and radar sensors; and a “virtual mirror” system to display the locations of surrounding vehicles using sensor data.

Bus Rapid Transit Technologies: Volumes 1 and 2 are available from. More information on BRT research at the University of Minnesota can be found on the BRT page.