Bus that uses magnets to steer tested in California

Posted on September 10, 2008

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the UC Berkeley-based California Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways (PATH) program demonstrated a 60-foot bus along a one-mile stretch in San Leandro, Calif., that was embedded with a series of magnets.

Special sensors and processors on board the bus detected the magnets in the pavement and controlled the steering based upon the information it received. The driver maintained control of braking and acceleration, but the steering was completely automated, allowing the bus to pull into stops to within a lateral accuracy of 1 centimeter, or about the width of an adult pinky finger.

Researchers say that the precision in docking could help save time, while the ability to more precisely control the movement of the bus reduces the width of the lane required for travel from 12 feet to 10 feet.

Caltrans provided $320,000 to fund the Automated Bus Guidance System demonstration project being conducted by PATH, which has been studying magnetic guidance systems as a means of controlling vehicle movement for nearly 20 years with significant funding coming from Caltrans and the U.S. Department of Transportation.





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