It’s all-electric and envisioned for Level 4 autonomous driving.

New Flyer unveiled its first automated bus, the Xcelsior AV, developed in partnership with Robotic Research in Maryland. According to the company, it’s North America’s first automated transit bus.

Of course, the Xcelsior AV is also all-electric, based on the proved Xcelsior CHARGE model. The vehicle is equipped with LIDARs, radars, cameras and processing hardware and software, which should allow for Level 4 autonomous driving, according to SAE J3016 definition (see the image on the bottom of this post).

New Flyer Xcelsior AV
New Flyer Xcelsior AV

According to Chris Stoddart, President, New Flyer and MCI, the company is committed to introducing an automated transit bus model within five years from now.

Automation of the buses brings many advantages, including safety, utilization of vehicles as well as efficiency (smooth traffic flow and reduce traffic congestion).

Autonomous driving specialist Robotic Research, supplied two of its primary solutions: AutoDrive AutoDrive ByWire:

“The first is AutoDrive®, Robotic Research’s self-driving technology, serving as the “eyes and brain” of the autonomous system and processing the world surrounding the bus, including mapping the environment, making decisions, and navigating the route.

The second is Robotic Research’s AutoDrive ByWire™ (drive-by-wire system), serving as the “hands and feet” of the automated system and controlling the steering, braking, and throttle, ultimately operating bus movement on its route.”

New Flyer Xcelsior AV
New Flyer Xcelsior AV

The list of capabilities include:

  • “Visualizing the environment: the bus can visualize its current environment using sensors (such as LIDARs, radars, and cameras) that create a three-dimensional model of the world to navigate through.
  • Pedestrian detection and avoidance: the bus can detect the presence of a pedestrian and adjust course to avoid.
  • Vehicle detection: the bus uses 360° sensors to detect the presence of other vehicles, responding with course adjustment as appropriate.
  • Precision docking: the bus is maneuvered precisely to allow for level boarding from the bus platform for passengers with accessibility needs.
  • Vehicle-to-Vehicle (or “V2V”): the bus has the ability to communicate directly with other vehicles, which allows safe platooning.
  • Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (or “V2I”): the bus communicates with signalized intersections or other infrastructure-based alerts, such as pedestrian and vehicle alerts (e.g. “Beacon Sense™”). These features will also assist in improving bus depot safety, efficiency and space usage through features such as self-parking, fueling and cleaning.
  • Day or night operation: the bus is fully capable of operating day or night, regardless of lighting or weather events, based on its defined Operational Design Domain (or “ODD”).
  • Safe and redundant system: the bus is capable of running when GPS is unavailable – responding to real-time data and events as they occur, instead of relying only on pre-mapped routes, buildings, and infrastructure.
  • Performance analytics: the bus is integrated with nSight end-to-end data collection to analytics technology, lending deep insight on bus performance and its interaction with other vehicles and infrastructure through its route and operation.”