November 23, 2010

MVTA launches 'Driver Assist System'

The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) launched its Driver Assist System in regular passenger service along Cedar Avenue.

The system, deployed initially on 10 buses, allows bus drivers to make better use of existing bus-only shoulders between Apple Valley and Minneapolis along Trunk Highway 77.

"We are excited to be able to provide this enhancement to transit service that will help bus drivers maintain scheduled service, particularly in adverse weather conditions like those we have this week," said Michael Abegg, MVTA's project manager for the Driver Assist System.

The system provides a high-accuracy GPS-based position of the bus within the authorized shoulders and gives feedback to drivers through physical and visual enhancements.

According to MVTA Executive Director Beverley Miller, this project is a result of extensive partnership efforts that included the University of Minnesota's Intelligent Vehicles and HumanFIRST Laboratories; federal, state and local government; and MVTA's private operating contractor, Schmitty & Sons Transit, which hires and trains the drivers.

The implementation of the Driver Assist technology was accompanied by an extensive training program. Schmitty & Sons drivers were required to show proficiency in using the system in a training simulator and then transfer that proficiency to on-road training.

MVTA's Driver Assist System also marks the nation's first deployment in the U.S. Department of Transportation's Vehicle Assist and Automation (VAA) for Transit program. The VAA program is intended to advance the start of the art in areas such as guiding bus movement through narrow lanes, precision docking at stations and collision avoidance.

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