School Bus Fleet

November 2014

A management & maintenance magazine for school transportation fleets

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24 S C H O O L B U S F L E E T • N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 4 trucks that may be added to school buses in the near future is its OnCom- mand Connection system. The remote diagnostics system takes fault codes from the engine's computer that have been aggregated into the telematics systems, identifes the severity of the code and provides a streamlined solu- tion to the driver and the feet main- tenance manager. If it's a minor issue, it would provide a heads-up and rec- ommend the driver take care of it dur- ing the next scheduled maintenance appointment. For more severe issues, it would alert the driver and main- tenance manager to get the issue re- solved as soon as possible and would provide location information for the closest dealer, ensuring that dealer has the necessary part, etc. While driverless Thomas Built bus- es are not on the immediate horizon, Ken Hedgecock, vice president of sales, marketing and service at Thom- as Built Buses, says the manufacturer does work to incorporate state-of-the- art technology into its buses that make them safer, more durable and more ef- fcient for drivers and students. "With features such as advanced telematics and student monitor- ing, Thomas Built Buses continues to stay at the forefront of innovation in the school bus industry," Hedgecock adds. "We look forward to what the future may bring and to future inno- vations that will make our buses even better for generations to come." with speed, location and direction data that got transmitted as a basic safety message. NHTSA adds, "It is too soon to reach conclusions about the feasibil- ity of producing a vehicle that can safe- ly operate in a fully automated mode in all driving environments and traf- fc scenarios." Although public trans- portation vehicles have been used in its connected vehicle technology tests, the administration says "automated crash avoidance safety systems do not quite exist for these types of vehicles." Time frame Belcher estimates that v2v and au- tomated technology will roll out in the next three to fve years, point- ing to work at UMTRI and GM's an- nouncement. UMTRI currently has 3,000 vehicles deploying the technol- ogy in southeast Michigan, including school buses and trucks, and the MTC will increase deployment to 9,000 ve- hicles, and is working with the Michi- gan Department of Transportation to eventually move to 20,000 vehicles in the next three to fve years, and 120 miles of instrumented roadway. Meanwhile, other states — Texas, Florida, California and Pennsylvania — are also trying to get v2v technol- ogy in place as soon as possible be- cause of its life-saving capabilities. NHTSA issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking, plans to is- sue a rule to require v2v technology in light-duty vehicles such as cars, and is in the process of making a de- termination about whether to require it in heavy-duty vehicles, possibly this year, Belcher says. He adds if NHTSA releases a rule in 2016 and it goes through the com- ment period, the fnal rule probably wouldn't go into effect until 2017. Then, it likely wouldn't apply to new vehicles until 2018 or 2019, and would just start to roll out in new, novel ve- hicles. However, if GM intends to de- ploy automated technology in certain new model vehicles beginning in 2017, those models are actually released in 2016, just two years away. He anticipates several vehicle man- ufacturers having similar intentions, possibly developing aftermarket de- vices so drivers can bring them into their cars, buses and trucks, most like- ly in the next three to fve years, and before the rulemaking is completed. Manufacturers keeping pace Manufacturers such as Blue Bird Corp., Thomas Built Buses and IC Bus are already offering some automated vehicle features on their buses, such as advanced telematics and air disc brakes. Kirk Lacko, senior product market- ing manager for Blue Bird, says that the manufacturer focuses on active safety technology, with features such as air disc brakes, which help buses stop faster, to potentially prevent ac- cidents. Blue Bird just launched air disc brake systems on all its 2014 Vision and All American models and is looking into systems related to colli- sion mitigation and electronic stabil- ity control. Another beneft, Lacko says, is there's less maintenance, resulting in cost savings. He adds that Blue Bird will roll out some automated advancements in the next model year, making driv- ing even safer and the operator more comfortable, and supports NHTSA's rulemaking. IC Bus' Reed says one vehicle-to- infrastructure connected technology IC Bus has rolled out in commercial Ramped-up Vehicle Tech Blue Bird Corp. just launched air disc brake (shown here) systems on all of its 2014 Vision and All American models and plans to roll out some automated advancements in the next model year.

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