Texas Southern University Studying Advancing Research of Automated Roadway Vehicles in Public Transit Applications
TSU’s Center for Transportation Training and Research (CTTR) is working to further research after completing a TRB/NCHRP study of autonomous vehicle transit systems
TSU’s CTTR has completed the work as Principal Investigator for the NCHRP 20-102(02) project sponsored by Transportation Research Board/National Academy of Sciences, which specifically addressed the implications of deploying fully automated roadway vehicle (AV) technology in transit operations. This study’s results will be featured in a TRB webinar later in 2017. The final report, titled Impacts of Laws and Regulations on Automation Technology for Transit, describes how AV transit will be commonly deployed in public transit service within the next few decades, and the resulting impacts on Operations and Policy at the local transit operator level will create a new paradigm for public transit. The NCHRP study assessed the development trajectories for AV transit technologies, considered the lessons learned through the last 50 years of automated guideway transit deployments, investigated the early demonstration projects for AV transit and tapped into the thinking of a number individuals within the transit industry, labor unions, and governmental agencies. Results of the study are an extensive set of findings and recommendations that address the existing laws and regulations, the nature of policy decisions that are made at the local transit agency level and the further development possibilities for the current prototype AV transit technologies now being demonstrated.
A second project now under development by TSU’s CTTR will provide a “living laboratory” of AV transit operations with fully automated vehicles traveling on the ground through pedestrian and vehicular environments within and around the University District in Houston, Texas. The University District AV Transit Circulator System implementation is being developed as a joint endeavor between TSU and the University of Houston – a Tier One research institution. Encompassing an area totaling over 2 square miles, the long term deployment phases will be analyzed in a planning study that is being considered for addition to the region’s Unified Planning Work Program. An Early Deployment Project is also being developed which will interconnect the campuses of TSU and U of H with AV Circulator transit services, and will provide an operational platform for important research studies such as those that come out of the NCHRP 20-102(02) project recommendations mentioned above.
By J. Sam Lott