Making Autonomous Buses a Reality
Services and solutions for autonomous public transportation
Why autonomous buses?
Thriving communities depend on public transportation to access jobs, education and support local economies. As the world migrates toward urban centers, increased population density is stressing urban transportation systems, slowing mobility and causing increased congestion, noise, pollution and heat.
To alleviate pressure on infrastructures, cities are developing next-generation mass transit systems. Buses are one of the most viable options for safe, reliable transport. They utilize existing infrastructure and can flex according to demand. LILEE Systems has developed solutions to add autonomous buses into smart, connected transportation systems for modern cities.
Solutions for autonomous transit systems
LILEE Systems relies heavily on its extensive experience in vital, real-time rail safety systems. Since 2009 LILEE Systems has been using advanced, connected vehicle technology to safely manage communications for Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) in the heavy rail industry. LILEE is now leveraging that same expertise to develop new ways to safely deploy autonomous bus solutions onto dedicated roadways.
Why would autonomous buses and trains use similar technology? LILEE designed the autonomous bus solution to work on fixed routes or ‘virtual tracks.” The team was able to use the same design principles and technology supporting CBTC, or positive train control, in the autonomous bus solutions.
Autonomous bus pilots have been a success!
This concept is now becoming a reality in Taiwan. Initial testing of the system is showing outstanding results. LILEE’s team re-purposed existing city buses and shuttles by converting them into autonomous buses with Drive-By-Wire (DBW) controls and Inertial Measurement Units (IMU) such as: smart sensors, cameras, GPS and LiDAR. The pilots also included creating V2X communications systems that would support command and control of self-driving buses. LILEE System deployed proprietary radio technology, TransAir DSR-2400, for ultra-reliable, low-latency communications.
The pilots successfully demonstrated a quick and cost effective strategy for cities wanting to modernize their transportation infrastructures by adopting autonomous transit.
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LILEE Systems’ autonomous bus solution implements all aspects of the ACES initiative: Autonomous, Connected, Efficient and Safe. Focusing on these core principles enables smart transportation.
Equipping the autonomous buses with LILEE Systems TransAir series of hardware, not only provides the necessary onboard computing power but also delivers the robust always-on connectivity required to safely network the transit grid. These modular communication gateways provide a scalable future-proof solution for growing smarter cities with increasingly complex control centers. LILEE Systems T-Cloud ensures an efficient utilization of remote autonomous vehicles and assets via the cloud-based portal.
There are several major milestones that must be achieved when deploying a successful autonomous vehicle program. First, the onboard system accumulates IMU data from an array of onboard devices to comprehend its current location, operational state and the nature of its surroundings. The collected information is then cross referenced against a high-definition, predefined map and routing directives to determine the best-path to achieve operational goals. Next, utilizing the latest onboard compute the system integrates Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms to determine a safe and effective course of action.
The vehicle also Interacts directly with its onboard Vehicle Control Unit (VCU) in real-time to execute all necessary mechanical actions known as the “four pillars” of vehicle operation: Steering, Shifting, Acceleration, and Braking. Finally, the vehicle communicates with fixed-location roadside assets – known as Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) – to achieve tasks such as traffic signal priority and understanding possible safety concerns within intersections.
By continually monitoring data feeds and the environment, the mainframe ensures the safety of passengers, pedestrians, and drivers. The system is in constant communication with a central operational control room, for remote monitoring and emergency actions. Ideally once all the milestones are successfully achieved, the vehicle will be able to perform regular revenue service without the need for a human driver/operator onboard.
LILEE Systems acts as a facilitator by assembling a consortium of experienced partners. LILEE Systems strongly believes there is not one company that has the capability and experience to single-handedly launch such a complex project. LILEE Systems believes in the practice of gathering exceptional partners to ensure a successful program. Partners need to be nimble, fast, and focused on whatever it takes to achieve customer success.
With a reasonable infrastructure investment, this method has shown to be a quicker and economical way to roll out autonomous vehicles within the fleet and enjoy the benefits of reduced operational costs. Transportation providers with fixed route, first mile, last mile, theme and corporate parks can all benefit from this virtual track autonomous technology. Dynamic dispatching can be implemented based on ridership using the flexible CBTC technology. Savings in CAPEX and OPEX can help reduce government subsidies.