New Flyer unveils continent’s first automated transit bus

New Flyer has unveiled North America’s first automated transit bus, which is undergoing testing at a Robotic Research facility in Maryland.

New Flyer and Robotic Research developed Xcelsior AV, a fully operational heavy-duty automated transit bus to harness the zero-emission power of New Flyer’s Xcelsior CHARGE battery-electric propulsion. It also integrates advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) technology to meet Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Standard J3016 Level 4 technology with the automated vehicle (AV). 

automated transit bus
New Flyer’s Xselsior AV-2 automated transit bus.

The Xcelsior AV represents the latest leap forward for New Flyer, according to Chris Stoddart, President of New Flyer and MCI. 

‘Meaningful improvements’

“In the future, we expect fleets of automated buses to improve road safety, with the potential to shorten commute times, increase energy efficiency and reduce congestion,” Stoddart said. “As standards and regulations are developed and implemented, and automated buses are deployed across North America, we expect our Xcelsior AV to enable meaningful improvements in the public transit user experience, which will hopefully lead to increased ridership.” 

New Flyer’s collaboration with Robotic Research began in 2019. Robotic Research’s testing facilities are located in Gaithersburg and Clarksburg, Maryland. 

“Automated buses have the potential to improve traffic patterns and reduce stop-and-go traffic, benefiting not only the users of mass transportation, but the whole infrastructure,” said Alberto Lacaze, President of Robotic Research. 

Primary technologies

Xcelsior AV capabilities are made possible by two primary technologies. 

The first is AutoDrive, Robotic Research’s self-driving technology, serving as the “eyes and brain” of the autonomous system and processing the world surrounding the bus, including mapping the environment, making decisions, and navigating the route. 

The second is Robotic Research’s AutoDrive ByWire, a drive-by-wire system that serves as the “hands and feet” of the automated system. It controls the steering, braking and throttle, ultimately operating bus movement on its route. 

In 2020, New Flyer announced North America’s first deployment of automated transit buses into revenue service in a pilot project with the Connecticut Department of Transportation. The pilot was funded by the Federal Transit Administration’s Integrated Mobility Innovation initiative, which supports projects demonstrating innovative and effective practices to enhance public transportation effectiveness, efficiency, quality, safety and transit rider experience.


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