None of us in the school bus transportation industry can ever foresee the day when a school bus does not have an adult in the driver seat. What we can expect is for the school bus to have advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).
Current OEM supplied school bus driver assist systems, such as anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and traction control, have been around for a while. They have been operating behind the scenes without the average driver ever knowing.
Today's more advanced driver assist systems found mostly in automobiles, SUVs and trucks—like adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking or blind spot monitoring—are more interactive. They provide drivers with information about their surroundings and automate repetitive tasks in the hope of an overall increase in safety.
Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) are systems developed to automate, adapt, or enhance safety features designed to help avoid collisions and accidents. They do this by offering technologies that alert the driver to potential problems, or avoid collisions by implementing safeguards and taking control of the vehicle.
New autonomous technologies are being developed at a blistering pace. In just one automotive model year, advanced driver assists have gone from being offered in a minority of new vehicles to being standard in the majority. What about the school bus?
Just think how much safer the school bus will be if these ADAS systems were integrated into the school bus chassis or body package.
Anyone planning long term replacement of a school bus, or part of a school bus manufacturer advisory committee, should ask the school bus sales/engineering team this tough question: When will our industry get the benefit of being able to select from the latest ADAS offerings currently available in the auto and light truck sector?
Use these available technologies as a guide:
- Adaptive cruise control (ACC)
- Adaptive light control: swiveling curve lights
- Automatic parking
- Navigation system with GPS and providing for routing data and up-to-date traffic information.
- Pedestrian detection system
- Blind spot monitor-adapted to cover the “danger” zone
- Collision avoidance system (Pre-crash system)
- Crosswind stabilization
- Cruise control
- Driver drowsiness detection
- Driver Monitoring System
- Electric vehicle warning sounds used in hybrids and plug-in electric vehicles
- Forward Collision Warning
- Intersection assistant-warning
- Hill descent control
- Lane departure warning system
- Lane change assistance
- Parking sensor
- Rain sensor
- Surround View system
- Tire Pressure Monitoring
- Traffic sign recognition
- Wrong-way driving warning
Robert Pudlewski is STN’s technical editor with more than 40 years of experience in the school bus industry. He is the retired vice president of fleet operations, procurement and maintenance for Laidlaw and is a member of the National School Transportation Association Hall of Fame.