Starting March 1, Metro has three coaches (that’s code for buses) in service equipped with collision avoidance technology – a system called Mobileye Shield+. Our drivers are pros at keeping people safe and avoiding collisions, and we’re testing if this technology will give them an extra set of eyes to help. (A video shows how it works.)

We’re teaming up with eight transit agencies across Washington on this pilot project, part of an effort to reduce the number and severity of collisions with pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles. Metro’s three coaches will operate on a downtown trolley route for starters, and rotate among south routes served by Ryerson base.

The driver assistance technology, called Mobileye Shield+, is provided by Rosco Vision Systems. It uses four bus-mounted vision sensors to identify and alert bus drivers when pedestrians, cyclists or vehicles are in close proximity to a bus, and warn them in time to take action to prevent a possible collision.

The system will be deployed on 38 buses statewide, with three buses in operation for Metro Transit, and five buses each for Community Transit, Pierce Transit, Intercity Transit, C-Tran, Kitsap, Ben Franklin and Spokane Transit.

The pilot project is jointly funded by the Washington State Transit Insurance Pool, its member transit agencies, King County Risk Management, and insurance companies serving the transit industry. Also, the Transportation Research Board through an Innovation Deserving Exploratory Analysis (IDEA) grant is funding the cost of the pilot program evaluation.

Each of the buses used in this test are 40 feet long and outfitted with four vision sensors, which trigger warning alerts to drivers. The system scans for pedestrians and bicyclists, and visual displays and an audio warning alerts drivers of imminent collisions before they occur, providing the driver time to take evasive action. The system also monitors following distance, warns drivers of an imminent rear-end collision, alerts drivers if their bus strays from its lane of without an active turn signal, and notifies drivers if the bus exceeds the posted speed limit.

Data collected from the four-month test period will be evaluated and analyzed by STAR Lab (Smart Transportation Applications and Research) an ITS research program that is part of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Washington. Feedback from transit operators will be part of the evaluation.