Automated Microbus - Introduction

The Automated Microbus (or just "Microbus" for short) is a proposed 6-passenger Automated Road Vehicle. The name includes the term "bus" because 1) the vehicles are shared, not private, and 2) the system would operate mostly at grade, not on an aerial structure.

A capacity of 6 passengers was selected because this results in the narrowest possible vehicle consistent with stability and accessibility. This, in turn, minimizes the cost of the exclusive roadway on which the Microbus travels.

Despite their small size, if the vehicles run at 5-second minimum headways, the theoretical maximum capacity is 6*(3600/5) = 4320 passengers per hour per direction. While actual systems would not be able to achieve 100% occupancy or an average headway of 5 seconds, this still should give a practical capacity of several thousand pphpd with proper system design. This is adequate for most applications.

In the off-peak, the Microbus system could function as Personal Rapid Transit, with no waiting and non-stop travel origin to destination. In peak periods, waiting time should be a minute or so, and vehicles would be shared and passengers might be required to transfer to allow efficient grouping of passengers to increase vehicle occupancy.

The Microbus is not the only suitable design for an ARV. In particular, if the exclusive roadway needed to cross conventional roads at signalized intersections, a larger vehicle might be desirable for safety and capacity reasons.