Co-designing Safety-Enhancing ADAS with Transit Operators

Public transportation is critical infrastructure serving millions of people across the United States. With roughly 4 billion individual trips occurring annually, it is the primary mode of transportation for many commuting to and from work, school, and leisure activities. Over the past several years, there has been an increase in investment in automated vehicle (AV) technology for buses. The use of AV technology has the potential to fundamentally impact public transit operations. While there are ambitious plans for automated bus deployments across the country, operating transit is more complex than light-duty passenger vehicles. Buses, for example, are significantly larger and operate in highly variable environments near vulnerable road users. Even in the case of smaller vehicles such as vans, there are still many technical challenges to overcome to navigate these complex environments safely. Furthermore, transit operations require supporting passengers and maintaining safety inside the vehicle. Due to both technical and operational challenges, transit vehicles, including buses and vans, will continue to require skilled human operators, even as automated vehicle capabilities are incorporated. Introducing new technology will impact operator’s duties and actions, as well as passenger safety and experience. To help maintain transit’s high level of safety for passengers, it is essential to understand how automation stands to affect the roles and day-to-day tasks of trained operators. Driver assistance automation, such as pedestrian warnings and lane-centering, can potentially improve the safety and workload of trained operators. At the same time, automation can create new kinds of safety issues caused by the interactions in human-autonomy teams and can intensify work as people primarily take over from automation in the most challenging situations. It is crucial to consider the safety of incorporating automation technologies into fleets and to develop training for operators to work effectively with such technologies. The study team's research first examines how autonomous vehicle technologies could impact transit operations, and specifically the jobs of transit workers. The research team will then collaborate with transit drivers to understand the kinds of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and interfaces that would help them in their work and improve transit operations. Through a participatory design approach, this project will examine past and ongoing transformations of transit infrastructure in order to envision the future of transit with operators. Centering safety and equity of the socio-technical infrastructure of transit, this project aims to develop novel, operator-driven systems that could further enhance operations. This is expected to yield (1) empirical findings on the forms of autonomy (current and proposed) drivers perceive as being helpful to their work, as well as necessary components of implementation (e.g., training, human-machine interfaces), (2) methodological insights on co-design strategies for generating novel directions for ADAS within transit, as well as accounting for the potential, unintended harms of autonomy, and (3) theoretical findings that contribute core understandings on autonomous systems impacts to safety and workload.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $98000
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Carnegie Mellon University

    Safety21 National UTC for Promoting Safety
    Pittsburgh, PA  United States  15213

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Center Program
  • Managing Organizations:

    Carnegie Mellon University

    Safety21 National UTC for Promoting Safety
    Pittsburgh, PA  United States  15213
  • Project Managers:

    Stearns, Amy

  • Performing Organizations:

    Carnegie Mellon University

  • Principal Investigators:

    Fox, Sarah

  • Start Date: 20230701
  • Expected Completion Date: 20240630
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01900361
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Safety21
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3552344811
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Nov 21 2023 5:57PM