School Bus Fleet

November 2014

A management & maintenance magazine for school transportation fleets

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21 N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 4 • S C H O O L B U S F L E E T and that it's an evolutionary process, says Scott Belcher, president and CEO of ITS America, an organization that advances research, development and deployment of intelligent trans- portation systems to improve the na- tion's surface transportation system. Other companies, such as Toyota, have said they don't ever envision what's called level 4 autonomy, or ful- ly autonomous vehicles, and that a hu- man driver must always be involved, according to Belcher. On the other side of the debate are Google, Tesla and some other auto- mobile manufacturers that see a more revolutionary transition, going to com- pletely automated vehicles much more rapidly, Belcher says, because they be- lieve that autonomous vehicles are saf- er than vehicles with human drivers. "It's an interesting tension between the legacy automotive industry and the high-tech industry," he adds. "Tes- la is now doing it and [Google] put hundreds of thousands of miles on the road with autonomous vehicles. There are still some challenges, particularly in the urban setting, but I think they feel comfortable that they are address- ing those challenges." The next challenge will then be pol- icies addressing liability, insurance and privacy. Some parents may think the technology is safer than the driv- er, while others may think a human driver is necessary. We also may face more complicated discussions about buses than about personal vehicles; an individual makes their own decision about riding in an autonomous vehi- cle. However, "when you're talking about an autonomous vehicle with 60 kids in it, there are many more people who have to be a part of the conversa- tion," Belcher notes. "Those are tougher questions and those aren't technical questions," he adds. "Even if we get to a technical so- lution, we'll still have a number of in- teresting policy questions to address." V2v technology More close at hand is v2v technolo- gy, which enables vehicles to commu- nicate with each other and/or the in- frastructure by radio signals or Wi-Fi signals about their speed, location and direction 10 times a second to prevent crashes. This technology could, ac- cording to the National Highway Traf- fc Safety Administration (NHTSA), potentially reduce non-impaired crash Google's driverless cars aim to make travel safer, faster H elping improve mobility for everyone, particularly those who cannot drive, is Google's aim in its Self-Driving Car Project. According to a post on Google's project page on May 27 by Chris Urmson, director of the Self-Driving Car Project, self-driving cars will cut down on drive times, allow seniors to keep their freedom, and eliminate drunk and distracted driving. Part of the project entailed building pro- totype vehicles designed to operate safely and autonomously without requiring human intervention, relying on its software and sen- sors, which eliminate blind spots next to the vehicle and can detect objects up to 200 yards in all directions, to help protect against accidents such as those caused by red-light runners, according to the website. Addition- ally, the speed of the frst vehicles is capped at 25 mph. Google enlisted drivers to work with ear- ly-stage prototypes on the company's test track, taking them through various tests and terrains, and simulated a busy street environment, with "traffc lights, construction zones and wobbling cyclists." The company says on its web pages that although its drivers can safely test a vehicle that doesn't have a steer- ing wheel, it has ft a temporary steering wheel and set of manual controls into each vehicle to comply with California law, which requires any vehicles still being tested to have manual controls. It plans to remove the controls after the prototypes are fnished being tested and permitted. Google plans to run a small pilot program in California in the next couple of years, according to the post. Google's vehicle prototypes are designed to operate safely and autonomously without requiring human intervention. Software and sensors eliminate blind spots next to the vehicle and can detect objects up to 200 yards in all directions, to help protect against accidents such as those caused by red-light runners.

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