UC Berkeley Researchers Create Bus That Steers Itself, Solving All Transit Problems

A group led by researchers at UC Berkeley have successfully tested and developed a bus that steers itself using magnets built into the road. While the driver still controls the acceleration and braking, and can take over steering, a computerized system is responsible for the direction of the bus. As simple as it sounds, this development could have a large and positive impact on transit in the future. In stand-alone form, the system will help guide the bus within a centimeter of the curb accurately and predictably, thus reducing the time taken for stops. Additionally, the precise movements mean that bus lanes can be narrowed by two feet. The most important use of this system, though, involves Bus Rapid Transit. Bus Rapid Transit uses buses along a dedicated lane, like a train, making stops at every station and picking up passengers. As an alternative to light rail train lines, which are expensive and often controversial (though a great solution in many situations), a Bus Rapid Transit line is relatively inexpensive to build and operate and offers the advantages of rail with the flexibility of buses. The addition of magnet guidance technology, which has been estimated to contribute only slightly to the cost of most BRT lines, would allow these buses to be utilized in an even more train-like fashion. It may not save the world but it's a fairly practical way to make bus service more efficient. [Wired]


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