The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) was awarded a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Integrated Mobility Innovation (IMI) grant to deploy three 40-foot battery electric buses with key automation features on the CTfastrak bus rapid transit corridor between New Britain and Hartford, Conn.
CTE will play a crucial role by providing project management and technical assistance services. This award is the first step of a broader effort by the FTA to invest in transit automation research and demonstrations.
Investments in automation can deliver significant benefits to battery-electric buses, especially in public transit. Automated driving supervised by a human operator can improve accessibility for disabled and elderly riders, increase energy efficiency from driving, and may offer operational flexibility by eliminating the need for larger 60-foot buses to serve high-ridership routes. The project aims to demonstrate automation capabilities such as steering, precision docking at CTfastrak station platforms, and platooning, which allows one or more driverless buses to follow a human-driven leader bus.
To ensure the success of the project, CTE is providing services to help bridge the gap between technology engineers and CTDOT. CTE will serve as the project manager and provide technical assistance, including route energy modeling. Additional project partners include New Flyer of America and Robotic Research. New Flyer will supply three zero-emission battery-electric buses and work with Robotic Research, the United States Army’s largest supplier of ground autonomy, to integrate automated driving features.
CTE said it believes automation will increase the effectiveness of clean technologies and ultimately strengthen the fight against climate change. With more than 25 years of experience supporting transit agency deployments of zero-emission buses, CTE is positioned not only to make this historic win a success for CTDOT and its project partners, but to demonstrate the viability of transit bus automation technology for transit agencies across the U.S.