North America’s First Automated Heavy-Duty Transit Bus
Robotic Research, a supplier of autonomous driving technology and solutions, and New Flyer of America Inc. ("New Flyer"), an independent bus manufacturer, announced today the successful development of the Xcelsior AV™ – North America's first fully operational automated heavy-duty transit bus.
"Welcome to the future of mass transit," said, Alberto Lacaze, president of Robotic Research. "Automated transit buses, like the Xcelsior AV, are not just safer and greener, but more efficient. By optimizing rider capacity, improving traffic flow, and reducing stop-and-go accordion delays, these vehicles have the potential not only to increase the efficiency of travel for those on board, but for all vehicles on the road. Our partnership with New Flyer has resulted in a new mode of transit that brings together the latest technologies, ultimately helping to enable a safer, cleaner, more efficient, and more accessible transportation solution for the public."
With the addition of Robotic Research's autonomous AutoDrive® technology, the Xcelsior AV™ can visualize its environment, allowing it to avoid collisions with vehicles, pedestrians, and other hazards. Its automated precision docking capabilities precisely manoeuvre the bus within inches of the level boarding platforms, providing easy access to passengers with disabilities following ADA rules. Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications can also enable "platooning," where multiple buses are linked and dispatched together to accommodate more passengers at peak transit times. Vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications also provide links to traffic lights and crosswalk signals to smooth traffic flow.
"Our Xcelsior AV represents the anticipated future of safety in public transit and the latest leap forward for New Flyer. The technology is real, and it's here," said Chris Stoddart, President, New Flyer and MCI. "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 developed and implemented, and automated buses deployed across North America, we expect our Xcelsior AV to enable meaningful improvements in the public transit user experience, hopefully leading to increased ridership. Together with Robotic Research, we are leading clean, accessible, reliable mobility that's safer for all."
The new Xcelsior AV™ bus is equipped with Robotic Research's AutoDrive® automated driving system, the AV bus's eyes and brain, and AutoDrive ByWire® drive-by-wire system, which enables automated throttle, brake, and steering. The AutoDrive® technology is already operating in first-mile/last-mile transit applications across four continents on both mixed traffic, public roadways and corporate and academic campuses.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) has already announced that it will deploy New Flyer's Xcelsior AV™ buses to serve on its CTfastrak bus rapid transit (BRT) route between New Britain and Hartford, anticipated to commence early 20231. The CTDOT project is funded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) as part of its Integrated Mobility Innovation ("IMI") initiative. It also is the first scheduled public automated bus application and will operate within the dedicated CTfastrak BRT guideway.
"We have amassed quite a team for this project," said Dennis Solensky, Transit Administrator, CTDOT. "CTfastrak is a one-of-a-kind asset to test new technology on, and we are thrilled to put it to its best use and roll out the first automated full-sized buses in North America!"