SusTech Talk – Nov 2021: Improved Bus Service on Ten Times less Energy


SusTech 2022 is hosting talks on Sustainability leading up to the virtual conference on April 21-23, 2022.

“Improved Bus Service on Ten Times less Energy”

with Tyler C. Folsom, Affiliate Professor, University of Washington, Bothell

Date: November 23, 2021
Time: 6:00 to 8:00 PM PST



Microvehicles can move people in the city as fast as cars or buses, but use an order of magnitude less energy. A self-driving taxi weighing less than the riders could form the backbone of an urban transportation system. No one knows how long it will take to realize this dream by developing artificial intelligence that is better than human drivers. In the meantime, we propose keeping the bus driver, but replacing the vehicle with a road train of fully-automated, electric two-person vehicles. At a bus stop, riders would select a destination, pay their fare, and board their own pod. The pod will accelerate to join onto the road train as it passes; thus, the bus never needs to stop for passengers. All vehicles would be small enough that a standard traffic lane can be divided into two half-lanes, leaving an outer through lane and an inner accelerate/decelerate lane. Less energy means smaller batteries that can be easily swapped and do not need a new charging infrastructure.


Tyler Folsom received a BS in Mathematics from Villanova University, MA in Math from University of Maryland and MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering from University of Washington. They were part of a team that wrote the real-time control software system for two unmanned spacecraft at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. They have done engineering R&D projects at Quest Integrated as the Principal Investigator for NSF, Air Force, Navy, Army, and private clients.

Dr. Folsom participated in the DARPA Grand Challenge races for autonomous vehicles. They have taught robotics, artificial intelligence, machine vision, embedded systems, software engineering, autonomous vehicles and digital electronics. They are an avid bicyclist, having biked around the world, and promote using autonomous cycles to build a transportation system that uses 30 times less energy than cars at the same speed. Research projects involve self-driving tricycles, which have been featured on TV several times. Dr. Folsom has written over 50 papers and technical reports, an e-book and is a senior member of IEEE.