Firm snaps up smart bus license
- By Eric Kulisch
- Mar 04, 2001
Talking Bus demo
A passenger information system that enables Seattle area residents to check
bus arrival times via the Internet could soon be available to the rest of
The University of Washington, which developed a demonstration system
for King County Metro Transit, granted a 30-month exclusive license to Digital
Recorders Inc. in January to modify the technology and sell it to other
"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 arrival times.
Digital Recorders plans to integrate the products with its existing
automatic vehicle location system. Its Talking Bus and TwinVision display
technology rely on Global Positioning System satellite signals to make automated,
on-vehicle voice and text "next stop" announcements.
The King County system compares odometer readings with assigned routes
to place the buses on a digital map and predict arrival times.
MyBus algorithms compare real-time data to previous bus trips to make
predictions. University engineers have also 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.