Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
BUS WITH RESERVATION SYSTEM AND ILLUMINATED SEATING
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/030987
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A bus includes: motor(s), interior camera(s), seats, each seat associated with an ultraviolet light source and an occupancy sensor, processor(s) configured to: (a) command one of the ultraviolet light sources to illuminate one of the seats; (b) periodically detect occupancy of each seat via the occupancy sensors; (c) activate the interior camera(s) based on a detected occupancy.

Inventors:
DELLOCK, Paul, Kenneth (41318 Rayburn Dr, Northville, MI, 48168, US)
BUTTOLO, Pietro (24674 Eton Ave, Dearborn Heights, MI, 48125, US)
SALTER, Stuart, C. (8890 El Dorado Drive, White Lake, MI, 48386, US)
SURMAN, James, J. (17317 Merryweather, Clinton Township, MI, 48038, US)
HUEBNER, Annette, Lynn (10198 Lakeside Dr, White Lake, MI, 48386, US)
Application Number:
US2016/046057
Publication Date:
February 15, 2018
Filing Date:
August 08, 2016
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
FORD GLOBAL TECHNOLOGIES, LLC (330 Town Center Drive, Suite 800Dearborn, MI, 48126, US)
International Classes:
B60Q1/00
Foreign References:
US20160200219A12016-07-14
US20150251596A12015-09-10
US20140264079A12014-09-18
US20150210287A12015-07-30
US20050080533A12005-04-14
US20160075275A12016-03-17
US20010023908A12001-09-27
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MURAFF, James, P. et al. (Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLPTwo North LaSalle Street, Suite 170, Chicago IL, 60602, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A bus comprising: motor(s), interior camera(s), seats, each seat associated with an ultraviolet light source and an occupancy sensor, processor(s) configured to:

(a) command one of the ultraviolet light sources to illuminate one of the seats;

(b) periodically detect occupancy of each seat via the occupancy sensors;

(c) activate the interior camera(s) based on a detected occupancy.

2. The bus of claim 1, wherein the seats are coated with a luminescent paint or dye visually responsive to ultraviolet light.

3. The bus of claim 1 , comprising a plurality of handles, the handles being at least partially constructed from a transparent material coated with a luminescent paint or dye.

4. The bus of claim 3, wherein the handles house ultraviolet light sources configured to activate the luminescent paint or dye.

5. The bus of claim 1, wherein the processor(s) are configured to: identify a boarding passenger and command the ultraviolet light source to illuminate the seat based on the passenger's identity.

6. The bus of claim 1, wherein all of the light produced by the ultraviolet light sources falls outside of the human-visible light spectrum.

7. The bus of claim 1, wherein the processor(s) are configured to: associate a destination with each occupied seat, activate the interior camera(s) based on determining that one of the occupied seats has become unoccupied prior to the destination.

8. The bus of claim 7, wherein activation of the interior camera(s) comprises flagging video recorded by the interior camera(s) and saving the flagged video.

9. The bus of claim 7, wherein the processor(s) are configured to: deactivate the interior camera(s) based on determining that the unoccupied seat has become occupied.

10. The bus of claim 7, wherein the processor(s) are configured to: activate the interior camera(s) based on determining that the seat has not become unoccupied after reaching the destination.

11. The bus of claim 1, comprising exterior camera(s) and wherein the processor(s) are configured to: authorize bus access to a person when the exterior camera(s) capture an image of the person's face; deny bus access to the person when the exterior camera(s) fail to capture the image of the person's face.

12. The bus of claim 11, wherein the processor(s) are configured to: determine whether the exterior camera(s) have captured the image of the person's face by running an image-recognition program, run the captured image through the image-recognition program based on and after receiving a wireless signal from a mobile device associated with the person.

13. The bus of claim 1, wherein the occupancy sensors are capacitance sensors.

14. A method of operating a bus including processor(s), motor(s), interior camera(s), seats, each seat associated with an ultraviolet light source and an occupancy sensor; the method comprising, via the processor(s): (a) commanding one of the ultraviolet light sources to illuminate one of the seats;

(b) periodically detecting occupancy of each seat via the occupancy sensors;

(c) activating the interior camera(s) based on a detected occupancy.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein the seats are coated with a luminescent paint or dye responsive to ultraviolet light and the bus includes a plurality of handles, the handles being at least partially constructed from a transparent material coated with a luminescent paint or dye.

16. The method of claim 15, comprising: identifying a boarding passenger and commanding the ultraviolet light source to illuminate the seat based on the passenger's identity.

17. The method of claim 14, comprising: associating a destination with each occupied seat, activating the interior camera(s) based on determining that one of the occupied seats has become unoccupied prior to the destination.

18. The method of claim 17, comprising: deactivating the interior camera(s) based on determining that the unoccupied seat has become occupied.

19. The method of claim 17, comprising: authorizing bus access to a person when the exterior camera(s) capture an image of the person's face; denying bus access to the person when the exterior camera(s) fail to capture the image of the person's face; determining whether the exterior camera(s) have captured the image of the person's face by running an image-recognition program on the processor(s); running the captured image through the image-recognition program based on and after receiving a wireless signal from a mobile device associated with the person.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein the occupancy sensors are capacitance sensors.

Description:
BUS WITH RESERVATION SYSTEM AND ILLUMINATED SEATING

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] This document relates to monitoring and illumination systems for vehicles, such as buses.

BACKGROUND

[0002] Existing buses fail to guarantee that customers will have a place to sit upon entry. Surveys show that customers are willing to pay a premium to reserve bus seats for a more comfortable and enjoyable ride. As buses become autonomous, the lack of a driver may pose security issues. A new bus is needed to resolve these problems.

SUMMARY

[0003] A bus consistent with the present disclosure includes: motor(s), interior camera(s), seats, each seat associated with an ultraviolet light source and an occupancy sensor, processor(s) configured to: (a) command one of the ultraviolet light sources to illuminate one of the seats; (b) periodically detect occupancy of each seat via the occupancy sensors; (c) activate the interior camera(s) based on the detected occupancy.

[0004] According to various embodiments, the seats are coated with a luminescent paint or dye responsive to ultraviolet light.

[0005] According to various embodiments, the bus includes a plurality of handles, the handles being at least partially constructed from a transparent material coated with a luminescent paint or dye.

[0006] According to various embodiments, the handles house and include ultraviolet light sources configured to activate the luminescent paint or dye.

[0007] According to various embodiments, the processor(s) are configured to: identify a boarding passenger and issue the command to the ultraviolet light to illuminate the seat based on the passenger's identity.

[0008] According to various embodiments, all of the light produced by the ultraviolet light sources falls outside of the human-visible light spectrum.

[0009] According to various embodiments, the processor(s) are configured to: associate a destination with each occupied seat, activate the interior camera(s) based on determining that the occupied seat has become unoccupied prior to the destination.

[0010] According to various embodiments, activation of the interior camera(s) comprises flagging video recorded by the interior camera(s) and saving the flagged video.

[0011] According to various embodiments, the processor(s) are configured to: deactivate the interior camera(s) based on determining that the unoccupied seat has become occupied.

[0012] According to various embodiments, the processor(s) are configured to: activate the interior camera(s) based on determining that the seat has not become unoccupied after reaching the destination.

[0013] According to various embodiments, the bus includes exterior camera(s) and the processor(s) are configured to: authorize bus access to a person when the exterior camera(s) capture an image of the person's face; deny bus access to the person when the exterior camera(s) fail to capture the image of the person's face.

[0014] According to various embodiments, the processor(s) are configured to: determine whether the exterior camera(s) have captured the image of the person's face by running an image-recognition program, run the captured image through the image-recognition program based on and after receiving a wireless signal from a mobile device associated with the person.

[0015] According to various embodiments, the occupancy sensors are capacitance sensors.

[0016] A method of operating a bus is disclosed. The bus includes processor(s), motor(s), interior camera(s), seats, each seat associated with an ultraviolet light source and an occupancy sensor; the method includes, via the processor(s): (a) commanding one of the ultraviolet light sources to illuminate one of the seats; (b) periodically detecting occupancy of each seat via the occupancy sensors; (c) activating the interior camera(s) based on the detected occupancy.

[0017] According to various embodiments, the seats are coated with a luminescent paint or dye responsive to ultraviolet light and the bus includes a plurality of handles, the handles being at least partially constructed from a transparent material coated with a luminescent paint or dye.

[0018] According to various embodiments, the method includes identifying a boarding passenger and issuing the command to the ultraviolet light to illuminate the seat based on the passenger's identity.

[0019] According to various embodiments, the method includes associating a destination with each occupied seat, activating the interior earner a(s) based on determining that the occupied seat has become unoccupied prior to the destination.

[0020] According to various embodiments, the method includes deactivating the interior camera(s) based on determining that the unoccupied seat has become occupied.

[0021] According to various embodiments, the method includes authorizing bus access to a person when the exterior camera(s) capture an image of the person's face; denying bus access to the person when the exterior camera(s) fail to capture the image of the person's face. [0022] According to various embodiments, the method includes determining whether the exterior camera(s) have captured the image of the person's face by running an image-recognition program on the processor(s); running the captured image through the image-recognition program based on and after receiving a wireless signal from a mobile device associated with the person.

[0023] According to various embodiments, the occupancy sensors are capacitance sensors.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0024] For a better understanding of the invention, reference may be made to embodiments shown in the following drawings. The components in the drawings are not necessarily to scale and related elements may be omitted, or in some instances proportions may have been exaggerated, so as to emphasize and clearly illustrate the novel features described herein. In addition, system components can be variously arranged, as known in the art. Further, in the drawings, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the several views.

[0025] Figure 1 is a block diagram of a vehicle computing system.

[0026] Figure 2 is a schematic of a vehicle including the vehicle computing system.

[0027] Figure 3 is a top cross sectional view of a bus.

[0028] Figure 4 is a side view of a bus seat.

[0029] Figure 5 is a perspective view of a bus safety handle.

[0030] Figure 6 is a block diagram of a method of operating the bus.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXAMPLE EMBODIMENTS

[0031] While the invention may be embodied in various forms, there are shown in the drawings, and will hereinafter be described, some exemplary and non-limiting embodiments, with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered an exemplification of the invention and is not intended to limit the invention to the specific embodiments illustrated.

[0032] In this application, the use of the disjunctive is intended to include the conjunctive. The use of definite or indefinite articles is not intended to indicate cardinality. In particular, a reference to "the" object or "a" and "an" object is intended to denote also one of a possible plurality of such objects. Further, the conjunction "or" may be used to convey features that are simultaneously present, as one option, and mutually exclusive alternatives as another option. In other words, the conjunction "or" should be understood to include "and/or" as one option and "either/or" as another option.

[0033] Figure 1 shows a computing system 100 of an example vehicle 200. The vehicle 200 includes a motor, a battery, at least one wheel driven by the motor, and a steering system configured to turn the at least one wheel about an axis. Vehicles are also described, for example, in U.S. Patent App. No. 14/991,496 to Miller et al. ("Miller"), U.S. Patent No. 8,180,547 to Prasad et al. ("Prasad"), U.S. Patent App. No. 15/186,850 to Lavoie et. al. ("Lavoie") and U.S. Patent App. No. 14/972,761 to Hu et al. ("Hu"), all of which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entireties. According to various embodiments, and as discussed below, the vehicle 200 is a bus 300 configured to carry many passengers (e.g., more than 10 passengers).

[0034] The computing system 100 enables automatic control of mechanical systems within the device. The computing system 100 also enables communication with external devices. The computing system 100 includes a data bus 101, one or more processors 108, volatile memory 107, non-volatile memory 106, user interfaces 105, a telematics unit 104, actuators and motors 103, and local sensors 102. [0035] The data bus 101 traffics electronic signals or data between the electronic components. The processor 108 performs operations on the electronic signals or data to produce modified electronic signals or data. The volatile memory 107 stores data for immediate recall by the processor 108. The nonvolatile memory 106 stores data for recall to the volatile memory 107 and/or the processor 108. The non-volatile memory 106 includes a range of non-volatile memories including hard drives, SSDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays, etc. The user interface 105 includes displays, touch-screen displays, keyboards, buttons, and other devices that enable user interaction with the computing system. The telematics unit 104 enables both wired and wireless communication with external processors via Bluetooth, cellular data (e.g., 3G, LTE), USB, etc. The telematics unit 104 may be configured to broadcast signals at a certain frequency.

[0036] The actuators /motors 103 produce physical results. Examples of actuators /motors include fuel injectors, windshield wipers, brake light circuits, transmissions, airbags, engines, power train motors, locks, doors, steering, lights (as discussed below), etc. The local sensors 102 transmit digital readings or measurements to the processor 108. Examples of suitable sensors include temperature sensors, rotation sensors, capacitance sensors, seatbelt sensors, speed sensors, cameras, lidar sensors, radar sensors, etc. It should be appreciated that the various connected components of Figure 1 may include separate or dedicated processors and memory. Further detail of the structure and operations of the computing system 100 is described, for example, in Miller and/ or Prasad.

[0037] Figure 2 generally shows and illustrates the vehicle 200, which includes the computing system 100. Although not shown, the vehicle 200 is in operative wireless communication with a nomadic device, such as a mobile device or a smartphone. Some of the local sensors 102 are mounted on the exterior of the vehicle 200. Local sensor 102a may be an ultrasonic sensor, a lidar sensor, a camera, a video camera, and/or a microphone, etc. Local sensor 102a may be configured to detect objects leading the vehicle 200. Local sensor 102b may be an ultrasonic sensor, a lidar sensor, a camera, a video camera, and/or a microphone, etc. Local sensor 102b may be configured to detect objects trailing the vehicle 200 as indicated by trailing sensing range 109b. Left sensor 102c and right sensor 102d may be configured to perform the same functions for the left and right sides of the vehicle 200. The vehicle 200 includes a host of other sensors 102 located in the vehicle interior or on the vehicle exterior. These sensors may include any or all of the sensors disclosed in Prasad.

[0038] It should be appreciated that the vehicle 200 is configured to perform the methods and operations described below. In some cases, the vehicle 200 is configured to perform these functions via computer programs stored on the volatile and/or non-volatile memories of the computing system 100. A processor is "configured to" perform a disclosed operation when the processor is in operative communication with memory storing a software program with code or instructions embodying the disclosed operation. Further description of how the processor, memories, and programs cooperate appears in Prasad. It should be appreciated that the nomadic device or an external server in operative communication with the vehicle 200 perform some or all of the methods and operations discussed below.

[0039] According to various embodiments, the vehicle 200 includes some or all of the features of the vehicle 100a of Prasad. According to various embodiments, the computing system 100 includes some or all of the features of the VCCS 102 of Figure 2 of Prasad. According to various embodiments, the vehicle 200 is in communication with some or all of the devices shown in Figure 1 of Prasad, including the nomadic device 110, the communication tower 116, the telecom network 118, the Internet 120, and the data processing center 122.

[0040] The term "loaded vehicle," when used in the claims, is hereby defined to mean: "a vehicle including: a motor, a plurality of wheels, a power source, and a steering system; wherein the motor transmits torque to at least one of the plurality of wheels, thereby driving the at least one of the plurality of wheels; wherein the power source supplies energy to the motor; and wherein the steering system is configured to steer at least one of the plurality of wheels." The term "equipped electric vehicle," when used in the claims, is hereby defined to mean "a vehicle including: a battery, a plurality of wheels, a motor, a steering system; wherein the motor transmits torque to at least one of the plurality of wheels, thereby driving the at least one of the plurality of wheels; wherein the battery is rechargeable and is configured to supply electric energy to the motor, thereby driving the motor; and wherein the steering system is configured to steer at least one of the plurality of wheels."

[0041] Figure 3 generally shows and illustrates a bus 300 consistent with the present disclosure. The bus 300 is one species of the vehicle 200 and thus may include some or all of above-described features of the vehicle 200. It should be appreciated that while the disclosure below is described with reference to the bus 300, any of the systems and methods may be applied to any other type of vehicle, such as an airplane or a sedan (e.g., the vehicle 200 pictured in Figure 2).

[0042] The bus 300 includes the vehicle computing system 100. The bus 300 includes an automatic door 301 coupled with one or more door motors; a door camera 302 located outside of the automatic door 301 and configured to capture images of customers located outside of the bus 300; exterior lights (e.g., LEDs) 303a, 303b configured to light up a first color (e.g., green) when the bus 300 authorizes entry to a customer and a second color (e.g., red) when the bus denies entry to a customer; seats 304a, 304b, 304c, 304d; seat lights (e.g., LEDs) 305a, 305b, 305c, 305d configured to light up a corresponding seat 304; seat sensors 306a, 306b, 306c, 306d configured to sense and confirm the presence of a customer; safety handles 307a, 307b; safety handle lights (e.g., LEDs) 305e, 305f configured to light up one or more safety handles 307; first and second interior cameras 308a, 308b configured to capture images of the interior of the bus 300.

[0043] As shown in Figure 6, the bus 300 is configured to perform a reservation control method 600. More specifically, and as described above, the bus 300 includes software embodying the below-disclosed operations stored on the memory 106, 107. The processor 108 is configured to execute the software stored on the memory 106, 107 and thereby cause the bus to perform the below- disclosed operations.

[0044] The bus 300, via the reservation control method 600, accomplishes the following objectives (a) reserves and assigns seats for customers, (b) locates customers while the bus is in motion, and (c) detects when customers unexpectedly remain in and/or leave their assigned seats.

[0045] Prior to entering or boarding the bus 300, customers download a smartphone application ("SA"). The SA displays an internal view of the bus 300 similar to Figure 3. The SA designates bus seats 304 as available or unavailable. For example, the SA may color seats 304 that have already been assigned or reserved in red and color seats that are available for reservation in blue or white. The SA may further shade the available seats according to their price. For example, lower priced seats may be shaded light blue while higher priced seats are shaded dark blue.

[0046] As shown in Figures 3 and 5, the bus may include safety handles 307 in addition to seats. Customers grip the safety handles 307 while riding the bus 300. The safety handles 307, as opposed to seats 304, enable the bus 300 to carry a higher density of customers. The SA may enable reservation and assignment of the safety handles similar to reservation and assignment of the seats. The SA may thus color the safety handles the various shades of blue (or white) as discussed above with reference to the seats. [0047] After picking a seat 304 or a safety handle 307, the customer confirms payment on the SA. The SA may confirm payment via an external financial server, which processes credit cards. Upon payment confirmation, an external server executes one or more of the following: (a) sends a confirmation code, such as a QR code to the SA; (b) sends, at block 602 of Figure 6, a confirmation message to the bus 300, the confirmation message including a unique identifier (e.g., MAC ID) of the customer's smartphone that was running the SA when the seat 304 or safety handle 307 was purchased. The confirmation code, such as the QR code may be rendered and thus displayed on the SA.

[0048] The bus 300 eventually stops at a location to pick up the customer (e.g., a bus stop). At block 604, the customer verifies his or her identify before entering the bus 300 via one or more of the following methods: (a) providing the displayed QR code to a sensor mounted on the bus 300, which scans the QR code and pulls up the customer's reservation; (b) communicating a unique identity of the customer's smartphone (e.g., the MAC ID) via a wireless communication technology such as Bluetoothâ„¢, NFC, or RFID; (c) manually entering a confirmation code on a keypad of the bus 300 located near an entrance of the bus 300; (d) facing the exterior camera 302 for a picture.

[0049] The bus 300 is configured to automatically accept and process the above verification methods. If the customer verifies identity via (a), then the bus 300, as described identifies, identifies and loads the customer's reservation via the QR code. If the QR code results in a loaded reservation, then the bus 300 authorizes access at block 606. If the customer verifies identity via (b), then the bus 300 compares unique ID of the customer's smartphone to the unique ID contained in the confirmation message sent to the bus. If the IDs match, then the bus authorizes access at block 606. If the customer verifies identity via (c), then the bus compares the confirmation code to the confirmation message. If the code and the message sufficiently match (e.g., both contain the same series of numbers), then the bus 300 authorizes access at block 606. If the customer verifies identity via (d), then the exterior camera 302 of the bus 300 captures an image of the customer's face. The bus 300 compares the captured image to a prestored image. The prestored image may have been previously provided by the customer via the SA. If the images sufficiently match, then the bus 300 authorizes access at block 606. The bus 300 may authorize access at block 606 in any suitable manner, such unlocking or automatically opening the door 301 and/ or lighting exterior lights 303a, 303b a specific color (e.g., green).

[0050] It should be appreciated that if the customer verifies identity via (a), (b), or (c), the exterior camera 302 may still capture an image of the customer's face. The bus 300 may compare the captured image to the prestored image as in (d). If the pictures sufficiently match, then the bus 300 continues to authorize access. If the pictures do not match, then the bus 300 denies access.

[0051] According to various embodiments, the bus 300 captures the image via exterior camera 301 and stores the captured image for possible later use. According to these embodiments, the bus 300 may authorize access at block 606 when the customer enters via (a), (b), and/or (c) as described above (i.e., the QR code, the wireless technology, or the manual entry) and the bus 300 is able to capture a suitable (i.e., unobscured) image of the customer's face. The bus 300 may evaluate whether the image is suitable by identifying whether the image includes sufficient detail (e.g., clear pictures of eyes, hair, and chin) to identify the customer at a later time, if needed. The bus 300 may transmit all captured images to an external server before departing from the pick-up location. These embodiments do not require a prestored image of the customer because no comparison is required.

[0052] Upon authorizing access or entry to a customer, the bus 300 may send an illumination signal to the seat 304 or safety handle 307 reserved by the customer at block 608. As described below, the illumination signal may cause a light (e.g., one or more LEDs) to illuminate the reserved seat 304 or safety handle 307, thus causing the reserved seat 304 or safety handle 307 to glow. Alternatively or in addition, the bus 300 may, at block 608, light up LEDs on a floor of the bus in a pattern leading to the customer's reserved seat or safety handle.

[0053] Figure 4 shows an example seat 304. A surface of the seat 304 is coated with a phosphor paint, a rylene dye , or any other suitable luminescent paint or dye 401. The paint or dye 401 reacts to certain wavelengths of light (e.g., ultra-violet light). This light may be invisible to humans. When the paint or dye 401 reacts with this light, the paint or dye 401 releases new light having human- visible wavelengths. The paint or dye 401 thus appears to glow.

[0054] As shown in Figure 4, a seat light 305 is mounted above the seat 304 and pointed in the direction of the paint or dye 401. The seat light 305 may be fixed in any suitable location, including within a cushion of the seat 304. When the seat light 305 is activated, the seat light 305 produces the certain wavelengths of light (e.g., the ultra-violet that is invisible to humans).

[0055] According to various embodiments, the seat light 305 includes a plurality of different LEDs. A first set of LEDs in the seat light 305 generates the ultra-violet light that activates the paint or dye 401. A second set of LEDs in the seat light 305 generates visible light suitable for reading. The seat light 305 may include a switch that enables a customer to turn the second set of lights on and off.

[0056] Figure 5 illustrates an example safety handle 307. Although the safety handle 307 of Figure 5 hangs from a ceiling of the bus 300 via a strap 501, other safety handles 307 may extend from a floor of the bus 300. The safety handle 307 includes the strap 501 and a triangular holding portion 502 with a grip 503. The holding portion 502 (and in some cases, specifically the grip 503) include the sensors and light sources discussed above. These sensors and light sources may include (a) a load sensor, electric capacitance sensor, and/or the wireless antenna used to verify presence of the customer (detailed below), (b) the first set of LEDs (e.g., an ultra-violet LED source) configured to activate phosphor paint or rylene dye, (c) the second set of LEDs (e.g., typical LEDs) that generates light visible to humans.

[0057] Accordingly, portions of the holding portion 502, including the grip 503, may be transparent to enable the passage of light therethrough. According to various embodiments, a first portion of the grip 503 is transparent and includes the second set of LEDs. According to various embodiments, a second portion of the grip 503 is made from a transparent material and includes the first set of LEDs. The transparent material is coated with the luminescent paint or dye. Alternatively, and as shown in Figure 3, one safety handle light 305e, 305f external to the safety handles 307, may be configured to generate the ultra-violet light. The one safety handle light 305e, 305f is thus capable of simultaneously illuminating (i.e., producing glow for) a plurality of safety handles 307. This configuration is suitable when the bus 300 prices all safety handles 307 equally.

[0058] At block 610, the bus 300 verifies that the customer has been correctly seated (or is gripping the proper safety handle) before departing from the pick-up location. The bus 300 may verify the customer's seat or grip via one or more of: (a) a load sensor 306 (e.g., a capacitive load sensor) located in the seat or handle that detects the application of force or weight; (b) an electrical sensor 306 (e.g., an electrical capacitance sensor) that detects a change in an electrical property (e.g., capacitance) corresponding to the customer; (c) wireless antennas (e.g., Bluetooth antennas or NFC antennas) that locate the customer's smartphone within the bus 300; (d) photo recognition via interior cameras 308a, 308b mounted inside the bus 300 (e.g., determining, via photo recognition, that the reserved seat has now been occupied). [0059] The photo recognition may proceed as follows: a patch may be painted or affixed each seat 304 and safety handle 307. The patch may be a certain unique color or have certain unique properties that render the patch highly visible to photo detection via cameras 308a, 308b. Each patch should generally be a different color than surrounding portions of the seat or safety handle. All patches may have the same color and unique properties. When the cameras 308a, 308b can no longer view the patch (as determined by image recognition software), the bus 300 may determine that the seat 304 or handle 307 has been occupied.

[0060] It should be appreciated that methods (a), (b), and (d) enable the bus 300 to produce an audio or visual signal when a customer has incorrectly switched seats 304 or safety handles 307, or placed an item on top of a seat 304 not associated with (i.e., not reserved by) the customer. Further, methods (a), (b), (c), and (d) enable the bus 300 to identify when a customer has vacated the reserved seat prior to the customer's destination. At block 610 and in-between stops, the bus 300 periodically queries the sensors and determines whether the sensors indicate a vacant seat 304 or safety handle 307.

[0061] Upon detecting a vacant seat 304 or safety handle 307 associated with a customer on the bus 300, the bus 300 is configured to: (a) flash the first set of LEDs associated with the vacant seat 304 or safety handle 307; (b) send a text message to the smartphone of the customer associated with the vacant seat; (c-1) initiate video recording via the cameras 308; (c-2) flag the video recording as important; (c-3) upload the flagged video; (c-4) conduct image recognition on the flagged video via image recognition software; (d) pull over and stop if the bus 300 is autonomous. Steps (a) to (d) may occur sequentially. The bus 300 may wait a predetermined amount of time (e.g., five or ten seconds) between each of the steps. The steps may be cumulative (e.g., the first set of LEDs continues to flash when the bus pulls over and stop). [0062] The bus 300 may charge customers taking longer trips more than customers taking shorter trips. The bus 300 is therefore configured to determine whether a customer's stay or ride on the bus 300 is consistent with the fare paid via the SA. The bus 300 associates a destination with each customer. The destination is received via the message of block 602. At block 612, when (or a predetermined amount of time before) a customer reaches a destination, the bus 300 transmits a message, such as a text message to the customer's smartphone. The bus may also flash or blink the second set of LEDs in the seat light 305 or the safety handle 307 associated with the customer.

[0063] At block 614, the bus 300 verifies that the customer has vacated the seat 304, safety handle 307, and/or bus 300 via any of the above- described methods. At block 614, the bus 300 may activate an alarm if the customer has not vacated the seat 304, safety handle 307 and/or bus 300 within a predetermined amount of time after the bus 300 reaches the customer's destination.

[0064] According to various embodiments, the alarm includes activating a live-streaming capability of the cameras 308a, 308b, thus enabling a remote operator to view the inside of the bus 300. The alarm may cause the bus 300 to record video of the interior via the cameras 308a, 308b, save the video, flag the saved video as important, analyze the video with image recognition software, and upload the flagged video to a centralized server. Video from the cameras 308a, 308b may stop being saved, flagged, and/or uploaded when the customer vacates the seat 304, safety handle 307 and/or bus 300. According to some embodiments, the bus 300 is configured to save both flagged and unflagged video. According to some embodiments, the bus 300 is configured to automatically upload saved flagged video, but is not configured to automatically upload saved and unflagged video. According to some embodiments, the bus 300 is configured to automatically delete saved and unflagged video after a predetermined amount of time. According to some embodiments, the bus is configured to automatically delete saved flagged video only after successfully uploading the saved flagged video.

[0065] If the bus 300 is autonomous, the alarm may prevent the bus from departing the stop until (a) the customer vacates the bus 300, or (b) the customer reserves a new seat 304 or safety handle 307. Instead of disabling the bus 300, the alarm may cause the bus 300 to instruct a centralized server to increase the fare associated with the customer. The bus 300 may track when the customer does depart (via the technologies described above), and then supplement the fare according to the additional time that the customer occupied the seat or safety handle plus a penalty.