PITA FY2014 Projects

Sensor-based electronic guidance and control of an Automated People Mover (APM)

PI:Bruno Sinopoli, Electrical and Computer Engineering

University:Carnegie Mellon University


Industry Affiliate(s):Bombardier Transportation

Summary:Bombardier Transportation Systems, a leading provider of Automated People Mover (APM) systems and located in Pittsburgh, PA, is partnering with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researcher Bruno Sinopoli to rethink this existing, and often expensive, technology. The goal is to make these systems more affordable and comfortable for cities to integrate into their mass transit systems.The PI and his research team propose to work with Bombardier to transition from the APM’s existing reliance on the guideway to a self-directed, electronically-guided, onboard-powered vehicle that eliminates the signal rail, guidance beam, and power rail from the guideway. Being a very expensive part of the overall design, even a minor reduction in the cost of the guideway can have a significant impact on the overall cost of the APM system, giving the proposed substantial competitive advantage over similar solutions.

Bombardier Transportation brings to this partnership technology they had already developed – the Bombardier CITYFLO 650TM communications-based train control (CBTC) – which eliminates the need for the signal rail. By partnering with the PI and his research team, Bombardier is developing electronic guidance for autonomous vehicle control using sensors, instead of the guideway, to guide a vehicle along a designated track. This approach uses a laser rangefinder within the body of the vehicle that takes distance measurements to key points in its environment. This information is processed via on-board computers that will then steer the vehicle along the designated track. In addition to significant cost savings, the proposed solution will increase dramatically the quality of the passenger rides, as the proposed system will virtually eliminate the annoying lateral accelerations and vibrations typical of current solutions.