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The connected bus

The connected vehicle is broken down into:

  • The connected train
  • The connected tram
  • The connected bus

Whilst all three forms of transportation are popular, in this article, we will focus on how the connected bus will benefit the operator.

The industry

Travelling by bus within the UK has always been a popular, affordable and an effective means of travel, whether it’s for: travelling to work, travelling to school, socialising, sight-seeing, day trips and long-distance journeys.

The UK bus infrastructure has been around since the early 1830s and the first passenger bus was pulled by horses (London). Since then, the UK bus industry has gone from strength to strength, increasing in popularity and proximity, significantly in the 1950s. Due to its popularity – to this current day; the vision of the ‘connected vehicle’ is now at the forefront of many bus operator’s priorities. The Department for Transport reported, “4.32 billion (bus) journeys in England in 2018/19”.

The Nomad tech

The connected bus consists of a Nomad high powered processor which is integrated with a CCTV/Network Video Recorder (NVR) system hosted within the processing unit, driving all cameras and essentially providing images to various on-board screens. Between the processor/NVR and monitors, the system can convert from analogue to digital, which assists the process of delivering images onto the screens. Furthermore, the connected bus has a telematics unit which captures all the output available from the ‘CAN Bus’. The ‘CAN Bus’ is a bus system which feeds back information of all critical and non-critical bussystems: breaks (data), engine temperature, oil levels, tyre pressure, cabin temperature, battery level, battery top-up and so on. The data is fed to Nomad’s domain in the required protocol so that Nomad can interpret, unpack and produce required, alerting and reporting. Nomad  provide the data to the customer in the form of a dashboard. The operator can see real-time and historical information about the bus. Live camera feeds are available on request, whether it be an incident in real-time or a historical report. The telematics unit also lets the processor and NVR know when the bus has doors open or is in reverse, which activates the reversing camera to show images with  zero latency on the driver’s monitors, which is essential for the driver when performing a reversing manoeuvre.

So why does anyone want a connected bus?

One element is to improve and understand the failure patterns. To enable predictive maintenance instead of reactive maintenance. This is an augmentation to any RAMS (Reliability Availability Maintainability Safety) process, therefore maximising the bus fleets availability. The Nomad solution provides in-depth and real-time information on the performance of crucial equipment and components on-board – partnered with diagnostic alerts – providing bus operators and owners the intelligence and sufficient time required to take pro-active action to prevent unplanned maintenance. Reduced costs and increased revenue are key factors for many, but with such a solution implemented, it is about improving the overall reliability of fleets, which is primary. All buses share the same purpose – transportation, but it is how that raw data from a bus is used to reap the benefits, such as a maximised service.

Another aspect important to every operator is security. If there is an incident inside or outside the bus, the cameras will capture the footage (internal and external cameras – live feed and recording). The driver can monitor when the luggage compartment is open from the driving position, enhancing the security of the bus. The operator can select any cameras on-board the bus and request footage of incidents filed in a tamper-proof video evidence locker. Usually the operator would have to sacrifice their bus’ hard drive to provide recordings to the police but, Nomad’s system has the video evidence locker, which provides a tamper-proof environment (secure file storage) for the content to be uploaded directly to law enforcement agencies. No one can access the virtual video evidence locker unless of course approved.

Final Thoughts

Nomad’s ground-breaking vision ‘connecting everything’ remains relevant. Now, the opportunity is not just to connect the passengers, but also bus operators, maintainers and on-board staff by enabling the vision of the connected bus.

Credit to our connected bus team. Lead by Robert Leyland.

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