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New Flyer, Robotic Research Launch Self-Driving Transit Bus

Xcelsior AV 400x275


January 29, 2021

New Flyer of America, which develops heavy-duty transit buses, has unveiled its Xcelsior AV automated transit bus, now in motion at Robotic Research in Maryland. First announced in May 2019, the bus is the culmination of a partnership between the two companies that includes New Flyer’s Automated Technology Program.

The two companies developed the Xcelsior AV – North America’s first fully operational heavy-duty automated transit bus – to harness the zero-emission power of the company’s CHARGE battery-electric propulsion, while also integrating advanced driver assist systems to meet the SAE Level 4, the company said.

“Our Xcelsior AV represents the anticipated future of safety in public transit and the latest leap forward for New Flyer,” said Chris Stoddart, president of New Flyer. “In the future, we expect fleets of automated buses to improve road safety and with the potential to shorten commute times, increase energy efficiency, and reduce congestion. As standards and regulations are developed and implemented and automated buses are deployed across North America, we expect our Xcelsior AV to enable meaningful improvements in the public transit user experience, which will hopefully lead to increased ridership.”

The capabilities of the bus are made possible through two technologies – Robotic Research’s self-driving technology that serves as the eyes and brain of the system, including mapping, making decisions and navigating the route; and the AutoDrive ByWire system, which operate as the “hands and feet” of the automated system, controlling steering, braking, and the throttle.

In addition, the bus includes system capabilities such as:

  • Visualizing the environment with sensors, including lidar, radar and cameras, that create a 3D model of the world to navigate through;
  • Pedestrian detection and avoidance
  • Vehicle detection through 360-degree sensors that have the bus respond with course adjustment as appropriate;
  • Precision docking for level boarding from the bus platform for passengers with accessibility needs;
  • Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, allowing for safe platooning;
  • Vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), which communicates with signalized intersections or other infrastructure-based alerts (pedestrian and vehicle alerts);
  • Day or night operation
  • Safe and redundant system that lets the bus run when GPS is unavailable, responding to real-time data and events as they occur, instead of relying on pre-mapped routes, buildings and infrastructure.
  • Performance analytics, which includes nSight end-to-end data collection to provide insight on bus performance and its interactions with other vehicles and infrastructure.

In 2020, the company announced North America’s first deployment of automated transit buses into revenue service, in a pilot project with the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

More specific details on the bus and its capabilities are available at New Flyer’s website.

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