Coördinating the GT bus system

This is part of the VIP (“Vertically Integrated Project”) program. Application is through the VIP website.


Professors: John Bartholdi (ISyE), Russ Clark (OIT, CoC)

We will meet Tuesdays 10—11:30am in Groseclose 226 (the SCL/Georgia Freight Bureau seminar room in the ISyE building, on the same floor as academic advisement). If you cannot meet at that time you will have to withdraw from the project for now and try again next semester. (Special exception may be made for those with special skills and proven ability to work independently.)

Sub-project teams will meet as necessary and at their convenience.


There will be no exams. You will be judged by your professors and peers on your contribution to and engagement with the project (details).

Everyone is expected to maintain a lab notebook with a sewn or glued binding (example). They are available at Staples or the GT Barnes and Noble bookstore. The notebook will be graded as per these expectations.

During the first two weeks we will organize into groups to match interests and skills with goals and tasks for this semester.

This is a project course and so fundamentally different from most other courses. We have a client to whom we have made commitments; and progress depends on teamwork. Therefore the pace of the class is set by the needs of the project. Unlike most other classes, you cannot neglect your work and catch up later. The project does not stop during mid-terms.

Failure to deliver on commitments inconveniences the entire team and endangers the success of the project. Lapses that might seem incidental in a lecture class will not be tolerated here. Do not enroll for this class unless you are prepared to work towards a team goal.

The best way to ensure the success of the project and enjoy your work is to find a piece of the project in which you are intensely interested and then take it on. The object is to make a contribution that persists.

We encourage team members to return in following semesters, especially if they have shown potential to grow into positions of technical leadership.

Goals, tasks for Spring Semester 2018

The system has been running successfully for 4 years but we continue to improve it and to extend its capabilities.

1. Provide more reporting tools

Refine and deploy Tableau dashboard by which GT Parking & Transportation can evaluate performance of the bus system. (This project is already underway and fully staffed.)

2. Improve precision in recognizing when a bus has stopped

GPS can be inaccurate, especially around tall buildings, which interfere with signals from the satellites. This makes it hard to note accurately when a bus arrives at a control point and especially when it departs.

To learn how to recognize when the bus has stopped, we can collect data from smart phones. You can install our app on an Android phone that will record all sensor data and push it to a remote DB for analysis. Then you ride the bus and use the app to record times of actual arrival and departure.

Among the interesting sensor readings, besides GPS, are the accelerometer and the detection of Bluetooth beacons, which we will deploy.

This project will likely involve the application of machine-learning to classify each bundle of sensor data as representing a stop or not.

3. iBeacons

How can iBeacons be used to detect arrivals and departures? These are inexpensive enough that they can be deployed throughout campus. The tablet computer on each bus could recognize beacons and so help determine location.

4. On-board-devices (OBD II)

These plug in to a standard receptacle on a vehicle and read data from various sensors to report location, speed, rpm’s, battery strength, etc. Develop tools to collect and interpret this information.

5. Other possible projects

If you have another idea you would like to tackle, make a proposal!

Documenting your work

All our work lives on Github. To see it, you must log in with your user id and then email me your user id so I can grant access.

Look at the various projects underway and read their Wikis and examine their Issues. See any you want to work on? If not, propose something.

Do not start working without first having submitted a 1-page proposal explaining what you will do, how it will help the client, and what you expect to deliver.


It is expected that you will maintain a lab notebook according to VIP standards. Otherwise your grade will be based on lasting contribution to the project, plus attendance, punctuality, and engagement in class and as reflected on github.

Immediate homework