Combining Augmented Reality and GPS Helps Keep Bus Drivers on Track

Every day a bus driver clocks in to work, he takes the lives of every passenger in his hands. This responsibility can be nerve-wracking, especially in places like Minnesota, where cruel winters brutalize streets, impair visibility and make driving conditions wholeheartedly hazardous.

The the folks at the University of Minnesota have come up with a way to give bus drivers all the road and travel data they would need; all portrayed clearly on the bus’ windshield, no matter how much snow or slush is covering the road ahead of them.

The way this new systems works is through a combination of GPS, laser sensors, and visual and tactile alerts to create a virtual world through which the drivers can navigate. The system tells the drivers where their lane ends, where other vehicles are on the road, and alerts them to other physical obstacles they need to avoid.

“We’re not steering the bus for them. The driver’s job is to control the bus,” said Michael Abegg, planning manager at MVTA. “We’re going to provide assistance to the drivers, comfort.”

So far, bus driver James Geiger is a fan. “I wasn’t 100 percent sold until I had to use it in that snowstorm,” he said. “It proved itself.”

From the testing that some of the drivers have done with this system, it seems to be a vast improvement on struggling to see exactly where on the road they are during a snowstorm or under harsh lighting conditions. This technology is still in the development stage, but we can definitely see it becoming extremely useful, or at the very least a great option for drivers operating in hazardous weather.

(Story and image via Star Tribune)

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