Firm snaps up smart bus license
- By Eric Kulisch
- Jan 28, 2001
Talking Bus demo
A passenger information system that lets Seattle-area residents check bus
arrival times on the Internet could soon be available to the rest of the
The University of Washington, which developed a demonstration system for
King County Metro Transit, granted a 30-month
exclusive license to Digital Recorders Inc. last week to modify the technology
and sell it to other transit authorities.
"It's the only [predictive] system that has been implemented on so many
buses that's really working," said Tanya Johnson, the company's general
In King County, transit officials and passengers can track the whereabouts
of 1,200 buses from their computers or Web-enabled phones thanks to two
complementary technologies from the university's Intelligent Transportation Systems research program. Busview shows bus locations on a map, and MyBus predicts
Digital Recorders plans to integrate the products with its existing automatic
vehicle location system. Digital Recorders' Talking Bus and TwinVision systems
rely on Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite signals to make automated,
on-vehicle voice and text "next-stop" announcements.
The King County system compares odometer readings with the assigned route
to place the bus on a digital map and predict arrival times.
MyBus algorithms compare real-time data to previous bus trips to make predictions.
University engineers also have created traffic models to account for bad
weather or unusual congestion. Depending on the distance between the bus
and the stop, the software can be 99 percent accurate within one or two
minutes of the prediction, said MyBus architect Dan Dailey, an associate
professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington.
"But whether it gets there exactly on the minute is not an issue. It's the
security of knowing the bus is coming" that makes the system valuable, said
David Turney, Digital Recorders' chairman and chief executive officer.
"The magic is the marriage of those two proven technologies while at the
same time moving" them to GPS, Turney said.