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What is transit bus automation?

FTA defines transit bus automation as the operation of a transit vehicle in mixed traffic or a dedicated right-of-way (e.g., bus lane) in which at least one element of vehicle control (e.g., steering, speed control) occurs without direct driver input. There are five levels of automation from SAE Level 1, (i.e. driver assistance), up to Level 5 (full driverless automation). For the STAR plan, FTA defines bus broadly, to accommodate a range of vehicle designs and capacities, but in line with 49 CFR 665.5 : “Bus means a rubber-tired automotive vehicle used for the provision of public transportation service by or for a recipient of FTA financial assistance.”

While related to connected vehicles, automated vehicles are not the same. Connected vehicles use communications technologies to share information between vehicles or between vehicles and infrastructure. Connectivity can serve as an input to automation technologies, but connected vehicles are not necessarily automated, and vice-versa.

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