Autonomous Public Transit

In this project, I examined public transportation in order to improve passenger comfort and convenience. Current forms of transit, such as buses and trains, only operate on a set schedule and travel to set destinations. They are often crowded during peak operation and longer commutes often require vehicle transfers during the trip. Ride-hailing systems solve many of these issues as an on-demand service linking two user specified locations. Current systems, however, cater only to a single passenger at a time, making them inefficient and pushing their fares above the budget of most commuters on public transit.

My capstone addresses this issue by using AI-controlled routing software to automatically link passengers heading to similar destinations. This allows on-demand pickups and single vehicle transits without waits or transfers. This system is intended as a supplement to current public transit, able to carry small groups of passengers heading to common workplaces or events.

As an example, if several passengers all work on or around UW campus, a route could start in Broadview with the first passenger and pick up additional passengers on demand in Greenwood, Ballard, and Wallingford as the vehicle passes by these locations.

In designing the interior of the vehicle, I worked with commuters to address pain points that they currently experience. In creating an inviting architecture for the vehicle, I focused on large windows and skylights with a full height aisle space to create a panoramic view and avoid claustrophobia. Many bus seats are stiff, meant for short trips, and do not fit well with larger or smaller passengers. In order to address this, I created suspension seats with an external frame and stretched fabric to better fit riders of different sizes. Sometimes passengers need to carry larger luggage during their trip, so I created luggage racks near the entry door to keep items secured and out of the aisle. In order to aid in productivity or leisure during longer commutes, I created pull out tray tables for each seat that collapse into the wall when not in use. For ease of access for mobility impaired passengers, I incorporated a fold down ramp at the rear of the vehicle. Finally, when talking to Seattle commuters, I found a common stop during their commute was to pick up coffee or other refreshments, so I integrated a cooler with drinks and food into the vehicle to better fit their trip.
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