The Automated Bus Consortium, a collective of US transit agencies and departments of transportation, released a request for proposals (RFP) to procure up to seventy full-size Level 4 automated buses. “Level 4” is a designation of highly automated vehicles as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Level 4 buses operate in pre-determined environments and still have drivers, steering wheels, and pedals. These vehicles will be deployed in revenue service on pilot routes selected by each participating agency, resulting in significant advancements in understanding the impacts of automation.
The RFP is the first battery-electric automated bus procurement and large-scale deployment for full-sized buses, and was issued by the State of Michigan, which is serving as the lead procurement agency on behalf of the Consortium agencies. Formed by AECOM, the Automated Bus Consortium is investigating the feasibility of pilot automated bus projects and accelerating the deployment of automated transit technologies.
Participants in this program include founding member agencies Dallas Area Rapid Transit, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, MetroLINK, Michigan Department of Transportation/Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, Capital Area Transportation Authority, Michigan State University, and Huron Transit Corporation. They will be joined by new Consortium members NJ TRANSIT and RATP Dev.
The Automated Bus Consortium previously announced the completion of the country’s first automated bus specification, combining the American Public Transportation Association’s Standard Bus Procurement Guideline for standard bus specification with the new full-size bus Automated Driving System requirements developed by AECOM with input from the Consortium’s Bus Specification Committee.
By combining the purchasing power of multiple agencies across the US, the Automated Bus Consortium aims to accelerate the adoption of state-of-the-art, safety-focused automated features not yet available to the industry. These features are designed to assist the bus operator in maneuvering the vehicle safely and improve service reliability. With the release of the RFP, the Consortium intends to select vendors by summer 2022 and receive a bus prototype for testing and certification in late 2023.