15 January 2021, By Ronald

The National highway traffic safety administration conducted a survey on the accidents school buses were involved in, which showed 3000 injured school bus passengers and 1000 drivers. It was a non-debatable fact that a better system needed to be implemented to cut down these numbers.

What if we could integrate the technological advancements into school transportation systems? Believe it or not, technology has come far and is capable of revolutionising the entire school commute experience for the better. Looking at all the technological advancements in some transportation systems, it’s no question that we are moving in the right direction. 

We have systems in place that allow an AI to automatically curve a school bus on a wet surface without deviating from its lane. This electronic stability control aligned with automated braking systems puts the technology bar so high that it’s capable of reducing school bus accidents to a still zero. 

This type of technologies is called intelligent transport management systems (ITS). By definition, ITS  is the advanced technology of electronics, communications, computers, control and sensing and detecting of all kinds of transportation systems to improve safety, efficiency, service, and traffic situation through transmitting real-time information to the management. Most school bus specific applications that are already in place are:

  • Forward collision warnings
  • Hill descent control
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • 360-degree surround systems and cameras to integrate danger zone monitoring.
  • Wrong-way driving warning
  • Parking Assistant
  • Road edge detection
  • Crosswind stabilisation

Even with all these technical appliances in place, the technological advancement in transportation is still a flower bud that still hasn’t bloomed. Here is a sneak peek on what is to come tomorrow in the evolution of school transportation management systems. It’s all thanks to sensors that advancement in transportation is where it is now. The sensors have a huge part in assuring the safety of the students in their school transit. Sensors are input devices designed to capture data from the world around them.

There is no doubt that the future of school transportation is going to rely on sensors as well. We already have Radars integrated into school buses to emit radio signals for information. An improved version of radar known as Lidar can show 3D images using the same radio waves but functions on laser lights. Lidar is known as Light detection and ranging. But since implementing Lidar is costly and is still under development, it is branded as one of the next-generation transportation management applications.

Integrated with Lidar, another application was proposed. When a vehicle is spotted at a distance, what if we could communicate with that vehicle and exchange traffic details or speed bumps or even send warning signs about potholes ahead. This type of communication of data is called an alternative data stream, and this being implemented on school buses is right around the corner.

Here are some innovative ideas that were shined upon in the Next stop innovative summit and National Association of pupil transportation conference.

  • Electric school buses 

The introduction of electric vehicles was a lifesaver considering the amount of carbon emission that is released daily with our fuel-based automobiles. Electric vehicles aren’t really cost-efficient and implementing them on school buses is a vision that’s still blurry.

  • Predictive Maintenance

Hiccups that can occur during a school commute are of wide varieties. The most common one is mechanical issues, like what if the bus doesn’t start or has a breakdown in the middle of an ongoing commute?

Now, the reliability of a vehicle can be checked before starting the trip with complex algorithms and produces all the actionable information for the maintenance staff to make adjustments. This AI-powered analyser can be integrated into the transportation management systems to get real-time updates on the well being of the automobile.

  • Driver tablets

Even though most school transportation management systems have already started practising this, it is yet to spread globally like a wildfire. A tablet integrated real-time tracking system and real-time communication with the management team is sure to result in systematic school transportation trips. The driver receives all the necessary information of the students boarding and routes that have been planned beforehand by the management, which makes the driver’s job a lot easier. One of the school transport management solutions that do this job fluidly and efficiently is Loqqat.

From the above information, it’s safe to say that a better tomorrow is right around the corner. If we keep going at this pace, there will be flying school buses in the future. Technology is truly a blessing for school transportation. What do you think of this? Are there any other innovative ideas you would like to share for school commute? Leave a comment below.