Evaluation of Camera-Based Systems to Reduce Transit Bus Side Collisions

(Center Identification Number: 77940)

Principal Investigators:

Pei-Sung Lin, Ph.D., P.E., PTOE

Phone: 813-974-4910
E-mail: lin@cutr.usf.edu
Fax: 813-974-5168


Achilleas Kourtellis, Ph.D.

Phone: 813-974-8073
E-mail: kourtellis@cutr.usf.edu
Fax: 813-974-5168

Center for Urban Transportation Research
University of South Florida

External Project Contact:     

Victor B. Wiley, CPM
Transit Safety Program Manager, Florida Deparment of Transportation
Phone: 850-414-4525

I.  Project Objective/Problem Statement/Background

Side collisions, including sideswipe and angle crashes, make up the highest percentage of transit collisions, accounting for more than 40% of all crashes (Wang et al. 2003). Camera-based systems have great potential to provide drivers with views of the blind zones that exist due to the inability of mirrors to cover those zones. This side view camera system has great potential to enhance, or even replace mirrors, and provide drivers with a clear view of the sides of the bus especially during common lane changing maneuvers. It can eliminate the need for adjustments, especially in the case of changing drivers of an in-service bus. It can also eliminate the danger of bus right-side mirrors hitting passengers waiting for the bus.

Previous research on side view camera systems includes comparisons between mirror, sensor, and camera-based systems as collision avoidance technologies. Findings show that the sensor-based systems are not reliable; they provide false warnings and, with time, are rendered unusable by the drivers (Dunn et. al. 2007).

An aftermarket side view camera system was studied in Phase I of this project using a controlled driver test to assess the system’s effectiveness in a controlled environment. The result of the controlled driving test showed convincing potential to use side view camera systems to reduce transit bus side collisions. The side view camera system can reduce or eliminate blind zones. The video system provides a much better view than the mirrors under rainy conditions and at night due to the use of infrared illumination (Lin et. al. 2010). The feedback received from the 28 bus drivers that participated in the controlled driver test was positive. Based on the findings from Phase I, the existing aftermarket side view camera systems used in the Phase I study can be further enhanced to achieve the best results. A field deployment with existing mirror system and enhanced side view camera systems through local transit agencies along with a comprehensive evaluation will be carried out in Phase II to evaluate its effectiveness.

II. Objectives/Tasks

Available side view camera systems on the market are mostly used for commercial and recreational vehicles as supplemental tools to the existing mirror systems. These side view camera systems vary on the market. Specific research on the effectiveness of mirror systems combined with side view camera systems is still very limited. Therefore, the major purpose of Phase II project will evaluate integrated mirror and camera system for transit buses, and develop the specification for such systems for potential widespread use in the future.

This project has five primary objectives:

1) Design and produce an appropriate integrated mirror and camera system with cooperation from manufacturers

2) Deploy integrated mirror and camera systems at local transit agencies for a period of time to evaluate and improve the system

3) Collect field data, analyze performance, and obtain feedback from various drivers participating in the study

4) Develop specifications for an integrated mirror and camera system appropriate for use to enhance the safety for transit buses

5) Provide research findings and recommendations

To achieve the project objectives, this project consists of the following specific tasks:

Task 1: Assess and select integrated mirror and camera systems for research

This first task is to perform literature review, assess existing integrated mirror and camera systems, and select proper integrated system for transit bus research. Specifically, this task is to accomplish the following subtasks:

1) Review research on available specification and setup for side view camera systems

2) Assess existing products on integrated mirror and camera systems for commercial vehicles or recreational vehicles

3) Seek for cooperation from vendors/manufacturers of integrated minor and camera systems

4) Select integrated mirror and camera systems based on the result of Subtasks 2 and 3 for research for transit bus through the project

Task 2: Conduct control driving tests to determine the system for deployment and evaluation

Three typical transit buses including (1) low floor bus, (2) high floor bus and (3) cutaway bus will be covered in this study. Control driving tests will be conducted in this task to determine specific integrated mirror and camera system for each bus type for field deployment and detailed evaluation. Specifically, this task is to accomplish the following subtasks:

1) Produce alternative designs on Field of View (FOV) for the camera and monitor (size, lens angle, camera focal length, image sensor, etc) of each selected mirror and camera system for each bus type for control driving tests

2) Obtain permission from transit agencies in Tallahassee to install the selected test mirror and camera systems on transit buses, and recruit bus drivers with different age group including new drivers for the control driving tests

3) Design comprehensive scenarios for control driving tests and performance measures. The control driving tests include but are limited to distance perception, lane changes, and left turns and right turns at intersections. Rainy and night time scenarios will also be tested.

4) Conduct control driving tests at the Transit Research Inspection Procurement Services (TRIPS) facility in Tallahassee for each alternative designs of selected mirror and camera system for each bus type

5) Conduct opinion surveys of participating bus drivers and obtain their feedback

6) Analyze the data collected during the control driving tests based on performance measures

7) Determine the best design of cameras and monitors as well as their configurations of the selected mirror and camera systems for each transit bus type for the field deployment and evaluation in the Task 3

Task 3: Deploy system with local transit agency for a period of time to evaluate system

After the system selected in Task 2 is thoroughly tested, at least one local transit agency will be utilized to deploy the system for a period of time useful for evaluation of several aspects of the system. The transit agency will be recruited in the beginning of the project. CUTR has connections with local agencies to perform this task. Specific subtasks include:

1) Deploy the best mirror and camera system determined in Task 2 on two transit buses for each transit type

2) Rotate a number of drivers on equipped buses to collect feedback

3) Collect needed data and performance measures periodically for evaluation

4) Compare driving behavior with and without the mirror and camera system

5) Conduct driver opinion surveys periodically for feedback

6) Provide support for the system if and when needed

7) Conduct detailed data analysis on selected performance measures and driver opinion survey

8) Revise the design of the mirror and camera system if necessary, and continue the deployment and evaluation to achieve the optimal system.

Task 4: Develop mirror and camera system specification for transit buses

It is essential to develop the specification of mirror and camera system for transit buses for potential widespread use in the future. Based on the result of Task 3, a minimum specification for the mirror and camera systems will be developed based on each bus type. Specific subtasks include:

1) Define the purpose of the mirror and camera systems

2) Define Field of View (FOV) required for system

3) Develop technical specifications for camera and monitor (size, lens angle, camera focal length, image sensor, etc)

4) Provide guideline to configure the cameras and monitors

Task 5: Provide major findings and recommendations

Based on a comprehensive field data analysis, field observations and driver survey result, major findings and recommendation will be provided in a draft final technical report for comment and review by FDOT project manager.

Task 6: Produce final report

The final task of the research will summarize the results of the previous tasks in a final report. The report will be designed in a clear and concise summary format that will facilitate easy reading and application by FDOT project managers and public transit professionals.

The draft final report will be edited for grammar, clarity, organization, and readability by the director of the National Center for Transit Research prior to submission to the Department for technical approval. The editor providing the review will sign a cover sheet attesting to such review prior to submission. The provision for editorial services will be the Principal Investigator’s responsibility (the author or a designated party may perform the review). A well-written, high-quality report will be submitted. The only changes allowable between the draft final report and the final report will be those changes requested by the Project Manager and the Research Center.

CUTR will coordinate the project with the project manager to ensure that the scope and activities are consistent with Florida DOT’s Public Transit Office’s goals and objectives. Work not included in this Scope of Service is not to be performed and will not be subject to compensation by the Department.

III. Deliverables

Deliverables for this project will include the following:

Kick Off Meeting

A kick-off meeting shall be scheduled to occur within the first 30 days of execution by the university. The preferred method for the kick-off meeting is via teleconference or video conference. As a minimum, the project manager and the principal investigator will attend. The Research Center staff must be advised of the meeting a given the option to attend. Other parties may be invited, as appropriate. The subject of the meeting will be to review and discuss the project’s tasks, schedule, milestones, deliverables, reporting requirements, and deployment plan. A summary of the kick-off meeting shall be included in the first progress report.

Progress Reports

The Contractor shall submit quarterly progress reports to the Research Center according to calendar quarters (Jan-Mar; Apr-Jun; Jul-Sep; Oct-Dec). The first report will cover the activity that occurred in the Quarter following the issuance of the task work order. Reports should be submitted within 30 days of the end of the reporting period. Reports are due even if little or no progress has occurred (in which case, the report should explain delays and/or lack of progress).

Progress reports must include the following information:

1.Contract Number, Work Order Number and Title,

2.Work performed during the period being reported,

3.Work to be performed in the following period,

4.Anticipated modifications (i.e., to funding, schedule, or scope), and

5.A Progress Schedule (Figures A, B, and C) updated to reflect activities for the period being reported.

To effectively track the project-related emails, the project contract number and title are required in the subject of the email to FDOT Project Managers.

Failure to submit progress reports in a timely manner may result in termination of the work order.

Draft Final Reports

The Draft Final Report is due 90 days prior to the end date of the task work order. The draft final report will be submitted to Sandra Bell at sandra.bell@dot.state.fl.us. It should be edited for technical accuracy, grammar, clarity, organization, and format prior to submission to the Department for technical approval. The Research Center expects the Contractor to be able to provide well-written, high-quality reports that address the objectives defined by the scope of service. Draft final reports must be prepared in accordance with the Guidelines for Preparing Draft Final and Final Reports (http://www.dot.state.fl.us/research%2Dcenter/Program_Information/Guidelines%20for%20Preparing%20a%20Final%20Report%2012-07.pdf). This document provides information on all report requirements, including format requirements, the technical report documentation form, disclaimer language, and so forth.

Closeout Meeting

A closeout meeting shall be scheduled to occur within the final 30 days of the project. The purpose of the closeout meeting is to conduct a project performance review, discuss the deployment plan, and next steps. Attendees shall include, as a minimum, the project manager, the principal investigator, and the Research Center performance coordinator.

Final Reports

Once the draft final report has been approved, the university shall prepare the final report. The university will deliver a minimum eight (8) copies of the final report in MS Word on CD, no later than the end date of the task work order to:

The Florida Department of Transportation

Research Center, MS 30

605 Suwannee Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0450

Each copy will be provided on a CD or DVD (i.e., for a total of eight disks). The project manager will review the final report to ensure that all issues identified for correction in the draft final report have been addressed.


IV. Project Schedule

Start Date:  August 2011               Expected End Date: November 2013

V. Project Budget

Total Lump Sum Amount (Salaries and Benefits)            $89,050.35

Cost Reimbursable Subtotal                                                  $8,900.00

Indirect Cost (subtotal x 10%)                                                   $890.00

Total Project Cost                                                                  $98,840.35

VI. Equipment

On tasks 1, 2 and 3 of the project, side camera systems are needed to develop and design a better system than the ones used in phase I. Since there are 3 types of buses, there will be 6 side camera systems required (two for each bus, one for each side) to be able to specify a better system. The cameras range from $250-$350. Monitors range from $200-$300. Cables, mounts, additional lenses and switch boxes are between $250-$300. The estimated cost for a side camera system for one side of a bus is $900. For 6 side camera systems, the estimated total cost is $5,400. Reimbursement will only occur upon receipt of and only for the amount of the purchasing invoice for the subject equipment. The university, upon receipt of any purchased equipment, shall forward to the Research Center a copy of the purchase invoice/property description as detailed in Budget/serial number and receipt. The Department will prepare and forward inventory control label(s), which the university shall have affixed to the property.

VII. Travel

As described in Task 2 of the project, team members need to travel to Tallahassee to the TRIPS testing facility in order to test the side camera system on buses with several bus drivers from local agencies. The travel should be for three trips of three persons for 4 days 3 nights (3 full days) each time. An estimate is 3 trips x ($130 gas + $779 hotel + $150 car rental + $108 food) = $3,500 ($388.9 per person per trip). All travel shall be in accordance with Section 112.061, Florida Statutes. FDOT employees may not travel on research contracts.

VIII. Personnel

For this project, the personnel will be the project PI, Dr. Pei-Sung Lin and Co-PI, Dr. Achilleas Kourtellis. Both worked on previous projects with rearview and sideview camera systems on heavy vehicles including trucks and transit buses. Dr. Chanyoung Lee was the Co-PI on the first phase of this project to evaluate the sideview camera systems. He will provide consultation and assistance on the testing needed. In addition, a technical assistant will aid the development and design on the sideview camera system to be evaluated and provide support to the systems installed on the buses in Tasks 2 and 3. An additional engineer Mr. Matthew Wills will provide technical support for the camera systems and installation plan as well as testing during all tasks. Ms. Deborah Sapper will provide logistical support and coordination during the testing at the TRIPS facility in Tallahassee. Ms. Kristin Larsson will provide administrative support on the project.

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