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
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