Wednesday, September 10

Magnetic Strips To Steer Automated Buses

UCBerkeley's PATH innovation will bring us driverless buses for speed and a more efficient use of available space on roadways

The innovative UC Berkeley PATH team partly funded by DARPA, has successfully tested their automated magnetic guidance system to speed up bus systems and the traffic around them.

Bus drivers would still decide when to go faster or slower, and could take full control at any time, but otherwise their route would be fully automated - so it's completely predictable by other drivers.

No more of that holding up everyone behind you while you hang about behind a bus wondering if it's really going to finally pull into your lane or not.

This magnetic guidance comprises a simple two-part system: a series of magnetic markers embedded in the center of the lane, and sensors and processing units in the vehicle passing over them, that read and act on the information.

This very clever bus only takes a second to read and obey all these traffic condition inputs from the markers even at 60 miles an hour. None of all that indecisive dithering like with you and me driving.

As the bus travels, a bar underneath scans each magnetic field and feeds information to an on board computer, telling the bus where to go and when to pull up at each stop.

Magnetic guidance would reduce the time needed to load and unload passengers at every stop, which makes the route almost as predictable as a subway system. Such precision would also enable roads to allow more lanes as each lane can be safely narrowed. The San Leandro test bus was able to land exactly on its marked target just a centimeter from the curb.

These researchers have been studying magnetic guidance systems as a means of controlling vehicle movement for almost 20 years. More interestingly, for a nation that depends on individual transportation, they are also looking at how magnets could control groups of cars together so they can be automated while traveling crowded highways.

Automating the bus system on the roads that we already have would cost only about $278 million for Berkeley, compared with billions for putting in comparable stretches of rail through this area.

For Matter Network