New generation of technologies is coming to vehicles

New generation of technologies is coming to vehicles

In 2016 and 2017, during the Czechbus trade shows, the Herman company presented its opinions on the future development of public transportation vehicle technologies. This presentation described the situation before and at that time and it predicted the needs of future development. The visions supporting the ideas were clear – i.e. significantly increasing demands on ways of control and transfers of data from transporters and passengers including e.g. checking data (e.g. a several GB large database of photos), online transfers of videos from vehicles, transfers of various logs (e.g. activities on the vehicle CAN busbar) and records from vehicles (tachographs), passenger access to public internet via LTE modems to make public transport more attractive, on-line adds or direct news broadcasts (vehicle are connected directly to news servers). What was presented as a vision in 2016 and 2017 has become a standard and it is demanded as a part of standard vehicle equipment. This article is a brief description of modern technologies and approaches created in the public transportation projects of the Herman company during the last year.

New generation of on-board computers


The latest EPIS 4.0C on-board computer suitable for municipal public transportation

The new generation of on-board computers is one of the important developments in the field of new public transportation technologies. They used to only control peripheries, provide simple communication with dispatching and inform the driver about the state of the drive. The new version of on-board computers, EPIS 4.0C was developed to meet the new function and vehicle needs and demands. EPIS 4.0C follows the tried and tested  EPIS 4.0A and EPIS 4.0B. EPIS 4.0C utilizes fast communication 1 Gbit/s, USB 3.0 and fast data processing. There are multiple practical reasons to increase speed and performance:

  • The WiFi IEEE 802.11 ac communication standard capable of transfer speed higher than 1 Gbit/s  must be used in depots to transfer large amounts of data.
  • Displaying videos from vehicle camera systems on the driver LCD terminal requires high performance picture processing especially in the case of real-time displaying (100-200 ms delay, data currents from this camera type can reach 25 Mbit/s on often used computer busbars).
  • Utilization of LTE modems capable of providing 40 Mbit/s and higher data currents in vehicles.
  • SSD discs for quick storage/retrieval of large amounts of data (current standard 32 GB).
  • Other performance related functions – simultaneous logging, control and updates of peripheries etc.

The on-board computer core has to be adapted to be able to effectively use new wireless communication standards, picture processing, multiple digital annunciators, TTS system (text to voice conversion) and other functions. The new type of on-board computer uses new processor lines that support these types of functions and communications. Thanks to that the system is prepared for performance increase and regulation by modular HW changes including the range from single core to quad core x86  platform based processors, memory increases from 1 GB to 4 GB, various SSD disc and storage sizes etc.. Although this HW conception is very different from EPIS 4.0B or EPIS 4.0A devices, this new type is fully compatible with the previous versions (mechanically, cabling, basic functions). This makes it possible for new technologies to be used in new or original vehicles without the necessity of changing vehicle cabling or reassembling holders, and everything can work on one version of „SW application“. These on-board computers are therefore interchangeable. The universal solution for radio networks proved that this on-board computer can be used with analogue networks, and DRM or TETRA networks while using one interface.

New generation of checking systems

EPIS 5A-FCS on-bard computer with checking including a cash register and an EPP 5.0BK checking terminal

EPIS 5A-FCS on-bard computer with checking including a cash register and an EPP 5.0BK checking terminal

As MPT technologies move forward so do the technologies of regional public transportation which adopts many functions. Thanks to the gradual development, new functions are utilized in RPT vehicles including intelligent switching of power supply branches, automated tachograph and CAN busbar reading, camera recording processing, Wi-Fi for passengers via a unified interface, and other functions more common in MPT until now. New ways of passenger checking are what moves checking systems forward. Their development concentrates  primarily on using contactless bank cards and electronic tickets. These new principles made it possible for fast data channels to be used in RPT. The new types of checking require fast and timely synchronization of ticket data across vehicles belonging to a transportation system to ensure that a ticket bought in a particular vehicle is valid in another vehicle where the passenger transferred (the ticket has to be transferred there fast).

Thanks to contactless payment cards „physical“ identification using plastic carriers (ODSI, Plzeň card, InKarta) are falling out of use while a new „virtual“ passenger identity is coming into existence. This has to be implemented in checking systems so that when using the card, passengers can be quickly and easily identified. The growing amount of databases of cards, encrypted passenger information and other data requires higher device capacity than previously.

The Herman company has introduced a new generation of on-board computers with checking that are ready for this growing trend. The new EPIS 5A-FCS device is based on the conception of the new generation of on-board computers, EPIS 4.0C (see above), and it allows for modular development of both applications and HW itself (replacement of processors – 1 to 4 core, memory 1GB to 4 GB, SSD disc size, etc.). The cash register (on-board computer) is also equipped with a 10,1“ high illumination LCD control panel with capacity touch control and integrated voice communication.

The designed solution also offers an external independent checking unit EPP 5.0 with an integrated printer, a bank card reader, a passenger display, and a 2D code reader. It can also be used together with an EPIS 4.0x on-board computer in MPT vehicles to provide ticket sales without adding another control unit to a vehicle.

New generation of communication units UCU

UCU 5.0xx communication unit including a V2X module (the most used unit of public internet in public transportation vehicles in the CR).

UCU 5.0xx communication unit including a V2X module (the most used unit of public internet in public transportation vehicles in the CR).

UCU 5.0xx communication unit including a V2X module (the most used unit of public internet in public transportation vehicles in the CR).

The development of mobile technologies in the CR in the field of data services has been a discussed topic, and it provides passengers with benefits in the form of free internet in vehicles. This field of wireless technologies has also been going through development and as one of a few the Herman company has decided to react to this trend. It has introduced to the market a new generation of UCU 5.0xx universal communication units.

The new generation of UCU 5.0xx communication units manages to combine essentially all technologies for communication of a vehicle with its surroundings in one device. The unit includes up to two LTE modems, a wifi module equipped with the IEEE 802.11 ac technology providing communication for passengers or in depots, a GNSS receiver (Global Navigation Satellite System) supporting the GPS and Glonass technologies and is „Gallieo Ready“, and also a V2X module providing direct communication among vehicles and with traffic infrastructure as per the C-ITS standard (see below).

These units are able to provide public internet in standards 802.11 b, g, ac to passengers, and they can also communicate with the infrastructure of the transporter via a fully independent GSM channel. It is clear that nowadays it is no longer necessary to use two SIM cards to „cover for“ the lack GSM coverage provided by operators. These networks are highly developed in cities and their coverage improves outside big cities as well. In the present, it is necessary to concentrate primarily on communication security and „certainty“ i.e. when it is possible to prevent exhausting of the tariff on „company“ LTE. Sensitive checking data and other technological data is often transferred via shared channels. By using 2 LTE modems transfers of this data can be separated – service data and public internet.

This is the reason why UCU 5.0 units are equipped with two independent LTE modems. One of the modems provides data communication with the transporter infrastructure (dispatching, technological components, etc.) while the other one provides internet connection to be used by passengers. The communications are securely separated. If there is only one modem, firewall is used to separate the dispatching data stream from the passenger one.

Thanks to the modular architecture this unit can be equipped with other technologies. It can be connected to internal vehicle busbars (2x Ethernet including 1x 1GBit/s, CAN, USB, etc.), data router behavior, and camera stream transfer can be integrated, etc..

V2X – Unified vehicle preference at intersections as per the C-ITS standard

There are multiple ways of solving public transportation vehicle preference at intersections in the Czech Republic. The same holds for emergency services systems (ES). This individual way of solving preference often complicates the development of modern intersections and implementation of public transportation vehicle preference because not all controller manufacturers enables communication with different manufacturers and solution providers.

The above described situation can be solved by using an international standard, e.g. V2X. This solution eases the development of preference both on the side of vehicles and on the side of controllers. V2X communication (also known as C2C, C2X) is a new European standard (C-ITS) of vehicle to vehicle and vehicle to traffic infrastructure communication. This standard is designed for all road vehicles, and public transformation vehicle needs were taken into account during its development. It is local communication on the 5,9 Ghz frequency. This communication unifies communication of vehicle with surroundings, i.e. with other vehicles (common road vehicles, public transportation vehicles, emergency services vehicles) and with infrastructure (intersection controllers, intelligent signs, units for informing drivers about traffic situation, intelligent stop signs, throwing of switches, etc.).

Introducing V2X into public transportation vehicles will ensure replacement and unification of some of the present technologies, and it will offer many new functions at the same time. These functions include for example informing drivers about dangerous situations (dynamic warnings about speed limits, emergency breaking, tram wheel slipping, roads crossing with tram tracks), information about the state and behavior of a vehicle (vehicle number, lines and connections, information that the vehicle is parked at a stop), and ensuring vehicle continuity.

These functions are provided by UCU 5.0 units if equipped with integrated V2X modules. Thanks to the connection with EPIS computers, information can be presented to drivers in a suitable format. If there is coordination with intersection controllers certain speed can be recommended to vehicles so that they drive through an intersection without stopping.

Example of what vehicles see if intersection controllers use V2X and broadcast signal plans (red/green for individual lines – gray means an arrival line). The color dots mean that a PT vehicle is present.

Example of what vehicles see if intersection controllers use V2X and broadcast signal plans (red/green for individual lines – gray means an arrival line). The color dots mean that a PT vehicle is present.

The Herman company is the first in the CR and one of the first in Europe to offer this technology to be used in public transportation. Units equipped with V2X modules have been implemented to coordinate traffic by transportation companies in Brno and Ostrava and it is probably the largest scale utilization of its kind in Europe.

Preference was not just implemented at one or two intersections to demonstrate the functionality. There was a project of implementing PT preference at 82 intersections using various manufacturers and controller types. Brněnské komunikace plc. cooperated with Brno Public Transport Company plc. to implement this project.

At the same time, the C-ROADS project equipped another 20 Brno intersections with this system. This proved the compatibility of systems supplied by different manufacturers for ES vehicles. A vehicle V2X communication unit from a different manufacturer that is used by an ES vehicle is compatible with Herman V2X units placed at intersections, and vehicle preference is granted. This is a groundbreaking solution that clears the way for intelligent vehicles outside of PT preference.

It is also noteworthy that as one of the first in Europe the UCU 5.0xx unit was given the permission to be used by rail vehicles – trams and trolleybuses.

During the projects, a SW platform was developed that visualizes broadcasting of intersection and vehicle state in real time (picture n. 4). This visualization platform makes simulating, analyzing and planning of events possible when signal plans are created and updated. This will save a lot of time and energy during testing of new scripts.

New LCD panel control possibilities

Today‘s communication technologies radically change the view of information systems in public transportation vehicles, and they can provide a lot of up to date information to passengers. One such technology is for example a dynamic vehicle sign (virtual ELP) which we put in use (for the first time in the CR) in cooperation with PMDP already in January 2015.

This technology has become common, and it is made possible by using GSM communication units in vehicles. As these technologies and approaches spread, systems need to be standardized and unified. The Herman company is preparing a unified LCD system control protocol that will make way for many scenarios – information about the progress of the drive, displaying messages from dispatching, traffic information, adds, on-line news from public sources, …

New generation of switches

Example of the new generation of 8 port switches.

Example of the new generation of 8 port switches.

For many years, the Herman company has been manufacturing its own lines of switches that have become the standard of vehicle equipment for some transportation companies. There has been significant progress in this field thanks to realized projects. Thanks to fast communication interfaces of control components, vehicle networks are being unified to become fully Ethernet based. This will make way for further gradual development in the field of vehicles using purely Ethernet based technologies.

To include components of older vehicles in this unification the Herman company introduced universal Ethernet units supporting the IBIS interface. Thanks to this solution a spinal Ethernet network can be used as a unified communication line and old technologies only supporting the IBIS standard can be included in this system. SW addressing in the control on-board computer is required for this technology. This system is highly suitable for connecting tram cars. Apart from the switches supporting the IBIS standard, our company also introduced new generation of switches supporting the PoE 48 V standard of powering camera systems including new negotiating as per the EEE 802.11af specification.

New generation of APC

New generation of passenger counting units - UCP 02

New generation of passenger counting units – UCP 02

Already in 2015, the Herman company introduced its own solution of passenger counting systems when it equipped some of the vehicles belonging to Transport Company Ostava plc. with UCP 01 units. It was a camera system based on stereo vision. The computing performance of this unit could achieve 95% accuracy at 12 pictures per second. As the market demanded 98% data accuracy and distinguishing objects (baby carriages, children etc.), a new version of passenger counting system UCP 02 was introduced provide ca 10x higher computing performance. Thanks to a new control unit placed in each sensor, individual inputs can be counted independently with 98% accuracy and the computing performance ensures future enhancements.

The ADA SW platform for door sensor data analysis is offered together with this system. This platform also utilizes traffic data to create comprehensive analytic data used for further transportation planning and reports for utilization rate control. The SW platform also includes map data to provide graphic interpretation of the utilization rate of individual connections on a line map.

Course vehicle numbers

New course marker type VLP 08x35.

New course marker type VLP 08×35.

In the Czech Republic, vehicle course numbers placed on the vehicle windshield are well established. It is clear that this number does not give much information to ordinary passengers. Few people realize that course numbers are of great assistance to transporters themselves. They provide clear and fast identification of a vehicle from outside. This allows them to solve emergencies much faster, and drivers can „switch“ faster at junction points where more vehicles are present.

The Herman company used course numbers in the 10×14 format which allowed them to be displayed on two lines. This was an established standard that was based on the format of plate tables. However, this format had its shortcomings. It did not allow font size changes, different displays, etc.. The 08×35 course marker has been introduced that makes way for displaying 6 signs on a line while the signs vary in size, font, inversion, they blink, … This is a universal solution that can be used for multiple display styles.

News in the field of accident cameras and camera systems

Thanks to the new generation of on-board computers and fast SSD discs, direct connection of an accident camera to an on-board system is possible now. This connection can be used to simultaneously save a camera recording via the USB 3.0 (USB 2.0) interface on a fast USB flash and on an SSD disc of an on-board computer.

This solution was introduced together with a new generation of camera systems supporting the ex4 system. Using this file system significantly improves write reliability and recovery after an accident.


The development of information, communication and control systems of public transportation vehicles that the Herman company predicted has become an accessible standard, and the Herman company has been participating in it with great intensity.

It is also clear that the standardization of V2X communication will spread and gradually become a common part of not only public transportation vehicles, and it will provide interoperability among various transportation and vehicle types.