New Flyer Testing Automated Transit Bus in Connecticut

New Flyer's Xcelsior CHARGE electric bus will be equipped to demonstrate SAEJ3016 Level 4 technology with an on-board safety attendant.

The Xcelsior CHARGE battery electric bus will be adapted to include technology enabling autonomous operation.
The Xcelsior CHARGE battery electric bus will be adapted to include technology enabling autonomous operation.
New Flyer of America Inc.
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New Flyer of America Inc., a subsidiary of NFI Group Inc., announces it will deploy North America’s first automated heavy-duty transit bus with the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT). The automated driving demonstration project will include the deployment of three 40-ft. battery-electric, Xcelsior CHARGE heavy-duty transit buses. The zero-emission deployment supports CTDOT’s demonstration project, funded by the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Integrated Mobility Innovation (IMI) initiative, which supports projects demonstrating innovative and effective practices to enhance public transportation effectiveness, efficiency, quality, safety and transit rider experience.

This marks the first time an automated heavy-duty transit bus will be deployed in revenue service in North America. The project team is led by the CTDOT and consists of New Flyer, New Flyer’s technology partner Robotic Research, and the Center for Transportation and Environment (CTE), a nonprofit with extensive experience supporting FTA projects.

“This is an incredible moment for the advancement of automated technology in public transit, and for the continued development of safe, smart, sustainable, and connected mobility across North America,” says Chris Stoddart, President, New Flyer. “For decades, New Flyer has led the public transit industry with innovative firsts. We are proud to work with CTDOT, Robotic Research, and CTE – not only in demonstrating mobility solutions for growing cities – but in showing the world that mitigating climate change, improving safety, and advancing technology can occur in harmony.”

The project is focused on the successful demonstration of automated technology on public roads, collection of relevant data to inform future policymaking, and advancement of Advanced Driving Assist System (ADAS) technology for enhanced safety. The zero-emission electric buses will demonstrate Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) J3016 Level 4 technology with an on-board safety attendant to operate on the CTfastrak bus rapid transit corridor, a dedicated 9-mile-long facility for exclusive use by CTtransit buses.

New Flyer will integrate the Robotic Research automated driving technology into the Xcelsior CHARGE buses, CTE will serve as project manager and technical consultant for the program, and New Flyer Infrastructure Solutions will support the installation and integration of the electric bus charging equipment. Robotic Research will supply, configure, and support the automated driving systems integrated in the Xcelsior CHARGE buses.

The announcement follows New Flyer’s May 2019 launch of an Automated Technology Program and partnership with Maryland-based Robotic Research.