Carnegie Mellon University
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Side Collision Warning System for Transit Buses
This project is no longer active.
Head: Chuck Thorpe
Contact: Christoph Mertz
Mailing address:
Carnegie Mellon University
Robotics Institute
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Associated center(s) / consortia:
 Vision and Autonomous Systems Center (VASC)
Associated lab(s) / group(s):
Note: This project has been superseded by the Transit Bus Collision Warning Systems project.

Side collisions make up the highest percentage of transit collisions, accounting for almost 40% of all accidents. Therefore, transit operators have placed preventing this type of accident as the issue that they would most like to see investigated as part of the transit IVI program. Unfortunately, there have been few, if any, studies about the use of collision warning systems in transit. In part, this is due to the difficulty of developing systems, which will operate in city driving conditions (low speeds and high vehicle/pedestrian densities).

Side-looking sensors developed for heavy trucks and light vehicles have been applied to buses in demonstration projects. Three primary concerns exist with these systems. First, they are tuned to look for vehicles and other large objects, and they miss smaller objects such as children. Second, they are designed to cover a full lane width, so they generate nuisance alarms in the tight quarters of bus operations. Third, in order to cover the entire 40-foot length of a bus, existing systems require up to 10 sensors per side, raising concerns about installation and maintenance costs.

In this project, the project team will carefully analyze available collision accident data to determine the causal factors of these accidents as well as ascertain when intervention would have been required to prevent them. Next, the project team will develop specifications for technologies that can reliably detect transit domain obstacles, including people, using only a few sensors per side of the bus. Finally, the project team will test if these technologies can meet the specifications in typical transit operating conditions and report on the anticipated benefit of widespread deployment.

Program Plan:

  • Analyze available crash data
  • Establish functional goals
  • Assess existing systems
  • Develop preliminary performance specifications
  • Investigate state of the art of technology
  • Select test system
  • Construct/acquire collision avoidance system
  • Conduct testing to validate performance specs
  • Finalize performance specs