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Center for Transportation Studies

Programs & Labs

Bus Rapid Transit Driver-Assist Technology

Photo of a bus driving on sholder.

The system uses visual and tactile alerts to quickly provide critical information to bus drivers.

Photo of a transit driver.

The technology provides a better experience for bus passengers, too—such as a smoother ride and more reliable travel times.

The Institute's driver-assist technology has been used to support the operation of bus rapid transit (BRT) routes on bus-only road shoulders, dedicated bus lanes, HOV lanes, and ordinary streets throughout the Twin Cities. Shoulder operation allows bus drivers to avoid traffic congestion and provide faster service to passengers, but maneuvering the buses in narrow shoulder lanes is often challenging for drivers. 

The driver-assist system (DAS) uses GPS satellite positioning technology and an on-board map database of the bus route to continuously identify the location of the bus on the roadway with centimeter-level accuracy. A head-up display (HUD) mounted between the driver’s face and the windshield shows the location of lane boundaries, helping drivers remain safely on the shoulder even when roads are snow-covered or visibility is low. Information about other vehicles or objects on the roadway, detected by laser sensors mounted on the front and sides of the bus, is also displayed on the HUD to help drivers avoid potential collisions.

If the DAS detects the bus beginning to drift from its lane, the white or yellow lane boundary on the HUD will turn red. If the bus touches the lane boundary, the driver’s seat vibrates on the corresponding side of the vehicle. If both warnings are ignored, the driver feels a “suggestive torque” on the steering wheel, which indicates to the driver the direction the bus needs to go to remain safely on the shoulder.

The system has been in use on 10 Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) transit buses since October 2010—the first time the technology has been used in vehicles transporting passengers. The ITS Institute, MVTA, and Schmitty and Sons Transportation are partners in the deployment. The buses provide express service between Apple Valley and downtown Minneapolis as part of the Cedar Avenue BRT project.

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