New Flyer launches North America’s first Level 4 autonomous transit bus

Heavy duty transit bus maker New Flyer and Maryland-based autonomous vehicle development company Robotic Research have unveiled the Xcelsior AV self-driving transit bus, which is reported to be North America’s first fully operational heavy duty autonomous transit bus.

New Flyer started its autonomous program with Robot Research back in May 2019, and launched a pilot in Connecticut last year using three of its Charge all-electric buses. Now the first dedicated Level 4 autonomous bus is ready to roll.

“Autonomous technology is not only expected to increase the safety of transit, but is also anticipated to increase the throughput and utilization of vehicles,” said president of Robotic Research, Alberto Lacaze. ” Automated buses have the potential to improve traffic patterns and reduce stop-and-go traffic, benefiting not only the users of mass transportation, but the whole infrastructure. New Flyer just introduced the missing piece of a fully integrated, smart transportation solution. This vehicle unlocks a new era of Transportation as a Service, leveraging technological advancements across industries to create a safer, cleaner, more efficient, and more accessible transportation solution for the public.”

The brain of the autonomous vehicle’s system is Robot Research’s AutoDrive self-driving technology, which uses data gathered by sensors like cameras, LiDAR, GPS and radars to create a 3D model of the world around the vehicle, as well as detect other vehicles, pedestrians and so on.

Autonomous system sensors include cameras, LiDAR, GPS and radars
Autonomous system sensors include cameras, LiDAR, GPS and radars

New Flyer

The system works with the vehicle’s drive-by-wire setup to steer, roll along and brake as necessary, and can keep things moving along even when GPS data is not available, with the bus able to respond to real-time events as they occur.

Other assistive technologies include parking a docking assist, blind-spot warning, and collision mitigation. The system allows for vehicle-to-vehicle communications to be undertaken, as well as vehicle-to-infrastructure for integration into smart cities, and operators can also deep dive into performance stats gathered by the integrated data collection system.

The 41-ft-long Xcelsior AV has 40 seats, room for standing passengers and two spaces for wheelchair users, and is powered by New Flyer’s Charge battery electric propulsion system. Though its actual configuration isn’t given, other members of the Charge all-electric transit bus family can host 160-kWh to 466-kWh batteries for up to 225 miles (360 km) per charge range and are designed for around-the-clock operation thanks to support for plug-in and on-route charging solutions.

The promo video below has more.

Xcelsior AV™ – North America’s first automated heavy-duty transit bus.

Product page: Xcelsior AV

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