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 Mondays 10:10—11:00am in Groseclose 226 (the SCL/Georgia Freight Bureau seminar room in the ISyE building, on the same floor as academic advisement).

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 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. Propose a clear goal and then learn what you need to achieve it. 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

Adapt the tools offered here to show performance of the GT Trolley route. (Skills: Javascript)

2. Passenger counting

Any bus system must measure its ridership so that it can configure service to match demand. Ideally we would learn where each passenger boarded and de-boarded the bus, but it would help just to learn how many boarded and de-boarded at each stop.

Build counters: Configure a pair of infrared beams that, when broken, count a passenger and not their direction of travel. Build this with a kit such as Arduino that we will purchase. (Skills: hands-on hardware.)

Alternatively, can we make a rough but useful estimate of the number of passengers boarding/de-boarding simply by measuring how long the bus pauses at each stop? We have collected data from a counter but it must be cleaned and associated with bus stops and with stop times. (Skills: light scripting, data analysis.)

3. iBeacons

Beacons emit a Bluetooth signal that can be detected by the tablets on board each bus. Can we use these to detect bus arrivals and departures where GPS might be unreliable? We need to experiment in order to determine how many are needed at a stop and in what configuration. How reliable are they? (Skills: organization, thoroughness.)

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. (Skills: C++ programming)

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 GT 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