VTA demonstrates ‘Smart Stop’ connected bus technology at ITS America


California’s Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) has demonstrated its new cutting-edge ‘Smart Stop’ connected bus application, which communicates between buses and waiting passengers, at the ITS America conference in San Jose last week.

A bus stop can become very crowded and confusing when serving multiple bus routes, or during bad weather when passengers may be in a location that is difficult to see by the driver. Developed for the VTA by leading global automotive semiconductor supplier Renesas Electronics America – in conjunction with eTrans Systems, a leading developer of software systems for connected and automated vehicles – the Smart Stop demonstration is designed to highlight V2I (vehicle-to-infrastructure) and V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) systems using dedicated short range communications (DSRC) for safety and mobility applications. The V2X technology connects the fleet systems with infrastructure, using 5.9GHz wifi communications, allowing vehicles to reliably interact with infrastructure, enabling collision avoidance, and promoting fuel efficiency, making ridership a greener efficient experience.

A mock VTA bus stop was used to demonstrate the use of DSRC to let a bus operator know if someone is waiting at a particular stop, and to let passengers know when the bus is nearby. This will allow buses to avoid having to stop when there are no passengers waiting, which saves time and fuel. When passengers arrive at a bus stop, they can use an app on their smartphone, or the touchscreen at the bus stop kiosk, to indicate that they are waiting for a particular bus. This request is then passed to a roadside unit (RSU) that runs software developed by eTrans Systems. The RSU then uses DSRC technology to transmit that request to the bus onboard unit (OBU), which generates an audible and visual alert. As the bus approaches the bus stop, DSRC communication is used to notify the passenger, via their smartphone, that the bus is approaching.

A second demonstration of DSRC technology featured Renesas’s advanced ADAS autonomous driving platform, which uses a combination of sensor fusion, 3D surround view, and V2X technologies to provide driver warnings for collisions, red lights and road construction. NHTSA has stated that V2X technology can reduce up to 80% of the crashes in the USA. New regulations have been proposed that will eventually mandate V2X technology to be integrated with existing vehicle safety features, in order to optimize driver safety and fuel efficiency.

“We are looking for new and inventive ways to improve the customer experience when taking transit,” said Gary Miskell, VTA’s chief information officer. “A Smart Stop provides customers a quick and simple way to keep them informed on their trip.”

Vinay Thadani, senior staff product marketing manager for the automotive unit at Renesas, noted, “It’s an exciting time for the transportation industry, and we are pleased to partner with VTA and eTrans Systems to demonstrate the first eco-friendly solution for V2X. Connecting the innovation of transit, vehicle, and infrastructure of the VTA, while using our onboard unit with eTrans Systems technologies, Smart Stop will promote safety and greener ridership in overall transit.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).