Driver-less Cars

Will Automated Public Transportation Too, Become A Reality?

As population is on the rising scale, there is a massive increase in the number of vehicles on the road and hence an
improvement in the problems associated with traffic management is required. More significantly, the Public Transport is the function that needs to be upgraded soon due to the increase in the number of accidents and various other traffic related issues.

Intelligent Public Transportation Management System (IPTMS) provides the solution to most of these problems by integrating existing technologies with the underlying infrastructure. An efficient vehicle tracking system is designed and developed for tracking the movement of any equipped vehicle from any location at any time. Real time vehicle
tracking for efficient transport management has become feasible with the advent of mobile technology and the
omnipresence cellular network. With thus, one need not wait for so long for any on road vehicle. The ubiquity of
Smart Phones and their ever increasing power at a very economical price makes them one of the most attractive
options for developing IOT applications.

Will Automated public transportation become a reality?

Automated Metros, Trains & Buses

According to a recent report published by the International Association of Public Transport, there were 53 fully automated metro lines in 36 cities across the world. Of the current 786km of these automated lines, half sit in four countries: France, South Korea, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. It is predicted that by 2023, there will be 2,200km of automated metro lines.

There are varying degrees of metro automation. Some systems are capable of running station to station without any control from the driver, who functions only to detect obstacles and open and close the doors. The highest level of automation, a truly driverless metro vehicle, is already functioning in Copenhagen and Barcelona.

Paris finished the conversion of Metro Ligne 1 to operate using driverless trains in December 2012 after years of planning, construction and negotiation with unions. The conversion was done without major interruption to passengers and its success led to the automation of several other lines in the system.

The conversion of the line to an automated metro system has allowed additional passengers to be carried at peak times and enabled trains to run every 85 seconds. Sceptics have said this is partly to do with the wide, well lit, proximity of Paris’s metro stations, as well as the abundance of security staff on the platforms –which would make it difficult to replicate in other metropolitan areas.

For an automated metro system to be safe, the platform-track interface is an important factor. One solution for this is to add platform door screens to prevent any individual from having contact with the track, similar to those that exist in Paris today. Another less popular option is a track-intruder detection system but, as a whole, limiting access to the track altogether is seen as a more viable solution.

The most popular signalling system used is communications-based metro control, which means the exact positioning of the train is monitored and regulated at all times. This information is used to increase efficiency and capacity by safely reducing the headway between trains on the same line.

The train’s location is determined using track and on-board data that is wirelessly transmitted to a central control facility, which manages all trains in the system. Central control means that service can be adjusted quickly to respond to delays or accommodate crowds and allows for better real time information.

The conversion from a conventional metro system to an automated one is a complex project that may require carefully considered timing and signalling upgrades, fleet modification and retrofitting of track-protection systems. Despite this, the benefits of automated metro trains have been seen in the safety, reliability and flexibility they offer passengers, so it is expected that the current exponential growth phase will continue.

Public transport is a service available on sharing basis for the welfare of the general public. It includes
city buses, trolley-buses and rapid transit like metro and subways. Unlike transportation modes like car-pooling,
rickshaws and taxis, this system encompasses an entirety of strangers. The main reasons as to why people
choose public transportation over other modes of transport are its subsidized rates, environment-friendly
attributes and easy accessibility.

Firstly, public transport is very economical allowing a large population to have access to it. Using a bus or a train to drive is comparatively cheaper than using a private car. If people have their own car, they have to spend a lot of money on car servicing, repairs, and insurance. There are many discounts available for some individuals, like students and senior citizens who choose public transport as their transportation option to get to work or go to school.

Secondly, public transport can preserve the environment by reducing the amount of pollution. With an increase in the use of public transportation, there will be a reasonable dip in the number of private vehicles on the road, therefore, improving the environment and in addition, solving the traffic congestion issues.

Furthermore, public transportation has good accessibility in big cities, making it easier to travel to any part of the city, making buses a favorable option to opt for. It provides personal mobility and freedom for people from every walk of life.

Taking into consideration the other aspects of public transportation, there are some downsides to this
service as well. Public transportation by its very nature, is far more time consuming than any other mode of
transportation. Most trains and buses run in accordance with a scheduled timetable. However, these time
schedules are seldom followed. There is always an uncertainty regarding the arrival of a bus. Often, buses break
down causing further problem to drivers.

Another difficulty we see is that public transportation often lacks organization. Drivers are often confused with regards to bus routes and bus stops. Even if the buses are running on time, they are usually crowded, the reason being, less frequency of the buses. Since the ratio of the buses to the population availing public transportation is disproportionate, overcrowded buses are not a rare sight.

With regard to all problems mentioned above, the simple knowledge of bus related information can solve a number of discrepancies related to public transportation. For instance, the time of arrival and departure of each bus, a comprehensive list of bus-stops, etc. can prove to be very constructive. Hence, an Intelligent Public Transport Management system is necessary to solve these issues. In order to provide necessary bus data to all passengers, this paper proposes a Smart Public Transport System where all relevant information of the bus will be gathered, processed, and presented to the user. This system includes introducing an hardware device inside the bus for indicating the approaching bus terminals and the remaining bus route.

Moreover, the system helps in nullifying the long waiting hours at bus stops. Along with the uncertainty in time, there is also an apprehension regarding the capacity of a bus. Even if the passenger is aware about the arrival time of the bus, Design and Development of Automated Public Transportation System and Traffic Guidance System
they do not know how many additional people can be accommodated inside the bus. The information will be
half-baked and hence of no use. Thus, determining capacity of any given bus is equally important to the arrival
time estimation. Therefore, by using high-end technologies, like Android and NFC code facility, and integrating
them with the existing system, we can provide a good solution to the issues discussed. To summarize, the system will eradicate the uncertainty in arrival time that drivers face every day and prove to be of great assistance in planning their journeys well in advance.

Mercedes Benz has also developed an autonomous bus, the Future Bus with CityPilot. This technology can respond to traffic lights and pedestrians, as well as approach bus stops automatically. The bus will autonomously brake when it senses it is necessary, using a software platform for autonomous driving in traffic. The first journey was made on a 20km route between Amsterdam’s Schipol airport and Haarlem.

A successful automated public transport system requires integrating all components for a smooth journey for passengers, via trains, trams, buses and last mile or shuttle buses. Driverless services on existing roads would require not only regulatory change, but also changes in perception by members of the public.

With the number of similar projects increasing, this change could happen sooner than we think. The straddling bus, however, is a long way off.

8.5 out of 10
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