Canadian Patents Database / Patent 2528647 Summary

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(12) Patent: (11) CA 2528647
(54) English Title: ADVANCE NOTIFICATION SYSTEM FOR USE WITH VEHICULAR TRANSPORTATION
(54) French Title: SYSTEME D'ANNONCE A L'AVANCE DESTINE A ETRE UTILISE AVEC DES VEHICULES DE TRANSPORT
(51) International Patent Classification (IPC):
  • G08G 9/00 (2006.01)
  • G08G 1/123 (2006.01)
(72) Inventors :
  • JONES, MARTIN KELLY (United States of America)
(73) Owners :
  • SHIPPING AND TRANSIT, LLC (United States of America)
(71) Applicants :
  • ARRIVAL STAR, INC. (United States of America)
(74) Agent: NORTON ROSE FULBRIGHT CANADA LLP/S.E.N.C.R.L., S.R.L.
(45) Issued: 2010-04-06
(22) Filed Date: 1996-10-04
(41) Open to Public Inspection: 1998-04-09
Examination requested: 2005-10-27
(30) Availability of licence: N/A
(30) Language of filing: English

(30) Application Priority Data:
Application No. Country/Territory Date
2,267,206 Canada 1996-10-04

English Abstract

An advance notification system and method notifies passengers of the impending arrival of a transportation vehicle, for example, a school bus, at a particular vehicle stop. The system generally includes an on-board vehicle control unit for each vehicle and a base station control unit for making telephone calls to passengers in order to inform the passengers when the vehicle is a certain predefined time period and/or distance away from the vehicle stop. The VCU compares elapsed time and/or traveled distance to the programmed scheduled time and/or traveled distance to determine if the vehicle is on schedule. If the vehicle is behind or ahead of schedule, the VCU calls the BSCU, which then adjusts its calling schedule accordingly. Significantly, a calling report generator in the BSCU allows a system user to solicit a calling report from the BSCU that indicates the time(s) and outcome(s) of any previous notification attempts(s) by the BSCU to the user telephone.


French Abstract

L'invention concerne un système et une méthode d'annonce à l'avance notifie les passagers de l'arrivée imminente d'un véhicule de transport, par exemple, d'un autobus scolaire, à un arrêt de véhicule particulier. Le système comprend généralement une unité de contrôle des véhicules à bord pour chaque véhicule et une unité de contrôle de la station de base pour faire des appels téléphoniques aux passagers afin de les informer quand le véhicule se trouve à un temps prédéfini et/ou à une distance de l'arrêt de véhicule. L'unité de contrôle de véhicules compare le temps écoulé et/ou la distance parcourue avec le temps prévu et/ou la distance parcourue programmée pour déterminer si le véhicule est à temps. Si le véhicule est en retard ou en avance, l'unité de contrôle de véhicules appelle l'unité de contrôle de la station de base, qui ajuste alors son horaire d'appels en conséquence. Qui plus est, un générateur de rapport d'appels dans l'unité de contrôle de la station de base permet à un utilisateur du système de solliciter un rapport d'appels auprès de l'unité de contrôle de la station de base, qui indique le(s) temps et le(s) résultat(s) de toute tentative de notification précédente par l'unité de contrôle de la station de base au téléphone de l'utilisateur.


Note: Claims are shown in the official language in which they were submitted.



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CLAIMS:


1. An advance notification method for notifying a user
of an impending arrival of a vehicle at a vehicle stop,
comprising the steps of:

(a) Monitoring travel of said vehicle;

(b) initiating a telephone call to a user
telephone interface associated with said user before
said vehicle reaches said vehicle stop, wherein a
point at which said telephone call is initiated to
notify of said impending arrival of said vehicle at
said vehicle stop is predetermined by said user;

(c) causing said user telephone interface to
exhibit a distinctive telephone ring sound during
said telephone call; and

(d) indicating impending arrival of said vehicle
at said vehicle stop via said distinctive telephone
ring sound.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein step (a) includes the
step of monitoring a distance travelled by said vehicle
and wherein step (b) includes the step of initiating said
telephone call to said user telephone interface when said
vehicle is a predetermined distance from said vehicle
stop.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein step (a) includes the
step of monitoring a time travelled by said vehicle and
wherein step (b) includes the step of initiating said



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telephone call to said user telephone interface when said
vehicle is a predetermined time period from said vehicle
stop.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein said distinctive
telephone ring sound comprises a ring lasting for a
predefined length of time.

5. The method of claim 1, wherein said distinctive
telephone ring sound comprises a silent period between
rings, said silent period lasting for a predefined length
of time.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein said distinctive
telephone ring sound comprises a plurality of rings with
at least two of said rings having different time
durations.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein said distinctive
telephone ring comprises a plurality of silent periods
with at least two of said silent periods having different
time durations.

8. The method of claim 1, wherein said telephone call
originates from a base station control unit remotely
located with respect to said vehicle.

9. An advance notification system for notifying a user of
an impending arrival of a vehicle at a vehicle stop,
comprising:

first means for monitoring travel of said vehicle;
second means for initiating a telephone call to a
user telephone interface associated with said user before



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said vehicle reaches said vehicle stop to thereby indicate
impending arrival of said vehicle at said vehicle stop,
wherein a point at which said telephone call is initiated
to notify of said impending arrival of said vehicle at
said vehicle stop is predetermined by said user; and

third means for causing said user telephone interface
to exhibit a distinctive telephone ring sound that is
associated with said advance notification system, said
distinctive telephone ring sound indicating said impending
arrival of said vehicle at said vehicle stop.

10. The system of claim 9, wherein said first means
includes a means for monitoring a distance travelled by
said vehicle and wherein said second means includes a
means for initiating said telephone call to said user
telephone interface when said vehicle is a predetermined
distance from said vehicle stop.

11. The system of claim 9, wherein said first means
includes a means for monitoring a time travelled by said
vehicle and wherein said second means includes a means for
initiating said telephone call to said user telephone
interface when said vehicle is a predetermined time period
from said vehicle stop.

12. The system of claim 9, wherein said distinctive
telephone ring sound comprises a ring lasting for a
predefined length of time.

13. The system of claim 9, wherein said distinctive
telephone ring sound comprises a silent period between
rings, said silent period lasting for a predefined length



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of time.

14. The system of claim 9, wherein said distinctive
telephone ring sound comprises a plurality of rings with
at least two of said rings having different time
durations.

15. The system of claim 9, wherein said distinctive
telephone ring sound comprises a plurality of silent
periods with at least two of said silent periods having
different time durations.

16. The system of claim 9, wherein said second means is
remotely located with respect to said vehicle.

17. An advance notification system for notifying a user
of an impending arrival of a vehicle at a vehicle stop,
comprising:

(a) a user telephone interface associated with said
user;

(b) a vehicle control unit disposed on said vehicle,
said vehicle control unit configured to transmit a
location signal indicating a location of said
vehicle; and

(c) a base station control unit having:

(1) a receiver adapted to receive said location
from said vehicle control unit;

(2) a base station telephone interface;

(3) a base station control mechanism controlling
said receiver and said base station telephone interface,
said base station control mechanism configured to
automatically establish a telephone connection between



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said base station telephone interface and said user
telephone interface when said vehicle is within a
predetermined distance from said vehicle stop, so that
said user telephone interface exhibits a distinctive
telephone ring sound, wherein said predetermined distance
is defined by said user.

18. An advance notification system for notifying a user of
an impending arrival of a vehicle at a vehicle stop,
comprising:

(a) a user telephone interface associated with said
user;

(b) a vehicle control unit disposed on said vehicle,
said vehicle control unit having:

(1) a clock;

(2) a vehicle transmitter adapted to transmit a
time signal indicative of a time from said clock; and

(3) a vehicle control mechanism controlling said
vehicle transmitter and said clock; and

(c) a base station control unit having:

(1) a receiver adapted to receive said time
signal from said vehicle control unit;

(2) a base station telephone interface; and

(3) a base station control mechanism controlling
said receiver and said base station telephone interface,
said base station control mechanism configured to
automatically establish a telephone connection between
said base station telephone interface and said user
telephone interface when said vehicle is within a
predetermined time period from said vehicle stop, so that
said user telephone interface exhibits a distinctive



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telephone ring sound, wherein said predetermined distance
is defined by said user.

19. The system of claim 18, wherein said distinctive
telephone ring sound comprises a ring lasting for a
predefined length of time.

20. The system of claim 18, wherein said distinctive
telephone ring sound comprises a silent period between
rings, said silent period lasting for a predefined length
of time.

21. The system of claim 18, wherein said distinctive
telephone ring sound comprises a plurality of rings with
at least two of said rings having different time
durations.

22. The system of claim 18, wherein said distinctive
telephone ring sound comprises a plurality of silent
periods with at least two of said silent periods having
different time durations.

23. A method for advance notification, comprising the
steps of:

monitoring travel of a vehicle;

initiating a telephone call to a telephone before
said vehicle arrives at a vehicle stop, wherein a point at
which said telephone call is initiated to notify of said
impending arrival of said vehicle at said vehicle stop is
predetermined by said user; and

causing said telephone to exhibit a distinctive ring
sound that is different than at least one other ring sound
that is capable of being exhibited by said telephone.



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24. A system for advance notification, comprising:
means for monitoring travel of a vehicle;
means for initiating a telephone call to a telephone
before said vehicle arrives at a vehicle stop, wherein a
point at which said telephone call is initiated to notify
of said impending arrival of said vehicle at said vehicle
stop is predetermined by said user; and

means for causing said telephone to exhibit a
distinctive ring sound that is different than at least one
other ring sound that is capable of being exhibited by
said telephone.

25. The method of claim 23, further comprising the steps
of:

transmitting a signal from said vehicle to a base
station;

automatically performing said initiating step at said
base station in response to said signal; and

transmitting said telephone call from said base
station.

Note: Descriptions are shown in the official language in which they were submitted.

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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ADVANCE NOTIFICATION S?STEM FOR USS 1PITS pggI~R
TRANSPORTATION
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention generally relates to data
communications and information systems and, more particularly,
to an advance notification system and method for notifying
system users in advance of the impending arrival of a
transportation vehicle, for example but not limited to, a bus,
train, plane, fishing vessel, or other vessel, at a particular
vehicle stop.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
There are many situations when it is desirable for
persons to know of the approximate arrival time of a
particular transportation vehicle shortly before the vehicle
is to arrive at a particular destination. With such
information, passengers or other or users of the inventive
system and method can adjust their schedules accordingly and
avoid having to wait on the particular vehicle to reach the
particular destination. For example, a person having to pick
up a friend or relative at a commercial bus station either has
to call the bus station to find out the approximate arrival
time, which information is oftentimes unavailable, or plan on
arriving at the bus station~prior to the scheduled arrival
time of the bus and hope the bus is not delayed. Thus, a
system user may include, but is not limited to, a passenger or
any person affected by a transportation vehicle.
Another example is in the commercial fishing industry,
wherein fish markets, restaurants, and other establishments
desire to purchase fish immediately upon arrival of a
commercial fishing boat at a port. Currently, such
establishments, in order to ensure being able to purchase the
freshest catch, often depend on predetermined schedules

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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of fishing fleets, which are not always accurate or
reliable.
Still another example involves school children who
ride school buses. School children who ride buses to
school often have to wait at their bus stops for extended
lengths of time because school buses arrive at a particular
bus stop at substantially different times from one day to
the next. The reason is that school buses are not always
the best maintained vehicles on the roads, frequently must
operate during rush hour traffic, and must contend with
congested urban/suburban conditions. As a.result, school
children are forced to wait at their bus stops for long
periods of time, oftentimes in adverse weather conditions,
on unlit street corners, or in hazardous conditions near
busy or secluded streets. If it is raining, snowing, windy
and cold, or even dark, such conditions can be unhealthy
and unsafe for children.
Thus, generally, it would be desirable for a person to
know when a vessel, such as a bus, train, plane, or the
like, is a particular time period (number of minutes or
seconds? from arriving at a destination so that the
passenger or other persons affected by the transportation
system can adjust his/her schedule and avoid arriving too
early or late.
In the past, in order to combat the arrival time
problem in the context of school buses, student
notification systems have been employed that use a
transmitter on each bus and a receiver inside each student
home. U.S. Patent No. 4,?13,661 to Boone et a1. and U.S.
Patent No. 4,350,969 describe systems of this type. When
the school bus and its on-board transmitter come within
range of a particular home receiver, the transmitter sends
a signal to the receiver, which in turn produces an
indicator signal to notify the student that his/her school
bus is nearby. While such notification systems work
satisfactorily under certain circumstances, nevertheless,

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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these systems are limited by the range of the transmitters
and require the purchase of relatively expensive receivers
for each student. In addition, such systems provide little
flexibility for providing additional information to the
students, such as notifying them of the delayed arrival of
a bus, alternative bus route information, or information
regarding important school events.
SUi~ARY OF THE INVENTION
An object of the present invention is to overcome the
deficiencies and inadequacies of the prior art as noted
above and as generally known in the industry.
Another object of the present invention is to provide
an advance notification system and method for according
advance notification of the impending arrival of a vehicle
at a particular vehicle stop.
Another object of the present invention is to provide
an advance notification system and method for according
advance notification to school students of the impending
arrival of a school,bus at a particular bus stop.
Another object of the present invention is to provide
an advance notification system and method for inexpensively
according advance notification of the impending arrival of
a vehicle at a particular vehicle stop.
Another object of the present invention is to provide
an advance notification system that is reliable in
operation and flexible in design to permit customization to
a particular application.
Briefly described, the present invention is an advance
notification~system for notifying persons of an impending
arrival of a vehicle as the vehicle progresses along a
scheduled route with particular stop locations and
corresponding scheduled times of arrival at the stop
locations. The advance notification system generally
comprises a vehicle control unit (VCU) disposed on each
vehicle and a base station control unit (BSCU) which is

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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configured to communicate with all of the vehicle control
units and with telephones used by passengers or persons
affected by or depending on the arrival or departure of the
transportation vehicle.
The VCU includes a vehicle control mechanism, a
vehicle communication mechanism controlled by the vehicle
control mechanism, a vehicle clock for tracking elapsed
time of the vehicle while on the scheduled route to
determine when the vehicle is early, late, and on time
along the scheduled route, optional input switches (e. g.,
start/reset, advance stop number, move stop number back)
that can be operated by the vehicle driver to indicate when
the vehicle has reached particular stops along the route,
and optional sensors (e. g., odometer, door sensor, swing
arm sensor, bus step sensor, positioning system input,
etc.) for signalling to the vehicle control mechanism when
the vehicle is early, late, and on time along the scheduled
route. The control mechanism is adapted to initiate calls
__ utilizing the vehicle communication mechanism when the
elapsed time and/or travelled distance of the vehicle at
any of the particular positions is either ahead or behind
the scheduled time and/or distance. In the preferred
embodiment, the vehicle communication mechanism is a
wireless communication interface, such as a mobile
telephone, radio frequency (RF) transceiver, or other
suitable device.
The HSCU has a base station communication mechanism
and a base station control mechanism for controlling the
base station communication mechanism. The base station
communication mechanism receives the calls from the VCU and
receives the amount of time and/or distance in which the
vehicle is ahead or behind relative to the schedule. The
base station control mechanism causes calls to be made to
each of the passengers to be boarded at a particular stop
location via the base station communication mechanism prior
to the arrival of the vehicle at the particular stop

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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location. In the preferred embodiment, the base station
communication mechanism is a wireless communication device,
such as a mobile telephone or RF transceiver (includes both
transmitter and receiver), for communicating with the
vehicle communication mechanism and also comprises at least
one telephone for calling passenger telephones or
telephones associated with persons affected by the
transportation vehicle.
The telephone call to advise a person of the impending
arrival of the vehicle preferably can exhibit a distinctive
telephone ring sound so that the call recipient need not
answer the telephone in order to receive the message.
Moreover, the distinctive telephone ring sound can be coded
by any sequence and duration of rings and/or silent
periods.
In accordance with a significant feature of the
present invention, a calling report generator in the BSCU
allows a person to solicit a calling report from the BSCU.
The report can indicate the times) and outcomes) of any
previous notification __attempt(s) by the BSCU to the
telephone possessed by a passenger or person affected by
the transportation vehicle.
It should be emphasized that while the present
invention is particularly suited for application to school
buses, there are many other applications. As examples, the
advance notification system and method of the present
invention could be employed with commercial buses, trains,
planes, pickup vehicles, delivery vehicles, fishing
vessels, and numerous other transportation vehicles.
Other objects, features, and advantages of the present
invention will become apparent from the following
specification, when read in conjunction with the
accompanying drawings. All such additional objects,
features, and advantages are intended to be included
herein.

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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BRIEF DESCRIPTION OP THE DRAWINGS
The present invention can be better understood with
reference to the following drawings. The drawings are not
necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon
clearly illustrating principles of the present invention.
Fig. 1 is a high level schematic diagram of an advance
notification system of the present invention as applied to
a school bus system, as an example, the advance
notification system generally comprising vehicle control
units (VCU) in communication with a base station control
unit (HSCU), which are in turn in communication with
passenger telephones;
Fig. 2 is a high level block diagram of the VCU of the
advance notification system of Fig. 1;
Fig. 3A is a low level block diagram of the VCU of
Fig. T;
Fig. 3B is a block diagram of the BSCU of Fig. 1;
Fig. 4A is a flow chart of the overall operation of
the advance notification system of Fig. 1;
Fig. 4H is an example of a schedule for a sequence of
events illustrating the operation of the advance
notification system of Fig. 1;
Fig. 5 is a flow chart of a base station control
program for the base station control unit 14 of Fig. 1 that
includes a vehicle communications program and a student
calling program;
Fig. 6 is a flow chart of a vehicle control program
for the VCU of Figs. 1 and 2; and
Fig. 7 is a flow chart of a VCU call control program
for the VCU of Figs. 1 and 2.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED.F.~IHODIMENT
The features and principles of the present invention
will now be described relative to a preferred embodiment
thereof. It will be apparent to those skilled 'in the art
that numerous variations or modifications may be made to

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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the preferred embodiment without departing from the spirit
and scope of the present invention. Thus, such variations
and modifications are intended to be included herein within
the scope of the present invention, as set forth in the
claims.
I. System Architecture
Referring now in more detail to the drawings, wherein
like reference numerals designate corresponding parts
throughout the several views, Fig. 1 is a schematic diagram
of the advance notification system 10 of the present
invention as configured to operate in, for example but not
limited to, a school bus system. The advance notification
system 10 comprises, preferably, a plurality of on-board
vehicle control units (VCU) 12, a single base station
control unit (BSCU) 14, and a plurality of telephones 29.
As configured in the school bus system 10, a VCU 12 is
installed in each of a plurality of school buses 19, all of
which communicate with the single BSCU 14. Moreover, the
HSCU 14 communicates with a telephone 29 at one or more
locations 36, or student homes in the present exemplary
application.
A. Vehicle Control Unit
The VCU 12 will now be described with reference to
Figs. 1, 2, and 3. Referring first to Fig. 1, each VCU 12
comprises a microprocessor controller 16, preferably a
model MC68HC705C8P microprocessor controller that is
manufactured by and commercially available from the
Motorola Corporation, U.S.A. The microprocessor controller
16 is electrically interfaced with a communication
mechanism 18, preferably a wireless communication device,
for enabling intercommunication of data with the HSCU unit
14. Examples of suitable wireless communication devices
include a mobile telephone (e.9., cellular) and a
transceiver (having both a transmitter and receiver)

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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operating at a suitable electromagnetic frequency range,
perhaps the radio frequency (RF) range.
In the embodiment using a wireless RF transceiver as
the communication mechanism 18, data can be sent in bursts
in the form of in-band tones, commonly called "twinkle
tones." These tone bursts can occur in the background of
an existing voice channel. Twinkle tones are oftentimes
used in transportation systems, such as taxi cab
communications systems.
The microprocessor controller 16 is electrically
interfaced with a start/reset switch 21, a move forward
switch 22, a move backward switch 23, a clock 24, and
optionally, sensors 25a-25d. Generally, vehicle tracking
is accomplished by monitoring the control switches 21-23,
the sensors 25a-25e, the power to the controller 16, and a
route database (Fig. 5). It is recommended that all of the
foregoing features be employed to provide redundant
checking.
More specifically, the start/reset switch 21 can be
actuated by the bus driver upon starting along the bus's
scheduled route to initialize the system 10. The move
forward switch 22 can be actuated by the bus driver upon
reaching a bus stop in order to inform the VCU 12 that a
stop has been made, the details of which will be further
described hereinafter. The move backward switch 23 can be
actuated by the bus driver at a bus stop if the bus driver
has erroneously toggled the move forward switch 22 too many
times, as will be further described in detail hereinafter.
This indicates to the microprocessor controller 16 that a
display module 33 and memory must be updated. In essence,
the move forward switch 22 and the move backward switch 23
cause the next stop designation which is displayed on the
display module 33 and stored in the VCU 12 to toggle
forward and backward, respectively.
The VCU 12 can be configured so that the operation of
the start/reset switch 21, the move forward switch 22, and

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
_g_
the move backward switch 23 is purely optional by the bus
driver. In this configuration, the sensors 25a-25e
automatically accomplish the aforementioned functions of
the switches 21-23. However, in certain cases, the bus
driver may want to use the switches to override the sensors
25a-25e. One of these cases may be when a student rides a
bus only two out of five school days. Rather than program
the VCU 12 to track these unnecessary stops, the driver may
manually control the stop number by the switches 21-23.
The clock 24 tracks the elapsed time as the bus
travels along its scheduled route and feeds the timing
information to the microprocessor controller 16.
The display module 33 informs the bus driver as to the
number corresponding to the next stop and the time
(preferably, in seconds) necessary to reach the next stop.
Other types of information may also be displayed on the
display module 33. For example, the display module 33 may
display the amount of time that the bus 19 is ahead of or
-. behind schedule, the status of the VCU 12 in communication
with the BSCU 14, or, upon actuation of start button 21,
that the advance notification system 10 is operating.
The optional sensors 25a-25e include an odometer
sensor 25a for determining distance into a route. This
sensor 25a can be connected to the bus drive shaft and
counts revolutions. This data can be used to determine the
stop number.
A door sensor 25b can be used to count the number of
door operations (opening/closing) of the front door 24 of
the school bus 19, which should correspond with the number
of stops .
A swing arm sensor 25c can be implemented to count the
number of times the arm operates. This operation should
coincide with the number of stops.
A bus stop sign sensor 25d can be utilized to count
the number of times the bus stop sign operates, This
operation should coincide with the number of stops.

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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A positioning system 25e can be used to determine the
geographical position of the bus 19 on the earth's surface.
The positioning system 25e could be the GPS (global
positioning system), the LORAN positioning system, the
GLONASS positioning system (USSR version of GPS), or some
other similar position tracking system.
Fig. 2 is a high level schematic circuit diagram of
the VCU 12. The VCU 12 is designed to be a compact unit
with a generally rectangular housing 34 that is mounted
preferably on or in front of the dashboard of the bus 19 in
view and within reach of the bus driver. In the housing
34, the microprocessor controller 16 is interfaced with the
transceiver 18 by a transceiver jack 31 (preferably a
conventional 8-conductor telephone jack when transceiver 18
is a mobile telephone), and the transceiver 18 includes an
antenna 32 for transmitting and receiving signals to and
from the BSCU 14. Further, the VCU 12 includes a liquid
crystal display (LCD) module 33 disposed 'for external
viewing of the display by the bus driver for providing
information to the bus driver, as described previously.
Fig. 3A is a more detailed schematic circuit diagram
of the electronic components associated with the VCU 12.
The microprocessor controller 16 essentially controls the
operation of the transceiver 18 and the LCD display module
33. A switching element 37, such as an optical isolator
(opto isolator) unit 37, provides a buffer between the
microprocessor controller 16 and the battery 35 as well as
switches 21, 22, 23. An EEPROM 43 is provided for storing
the control programs (Figs. 6 and 7) -and other requisite
data for the microprocessor controller 16, and a RAM 44 is
provided for running the control programs in the
microprocessor controller 16. A matrix keyboard emulator
39 is interfaced between the transceiver 18 and the
microprocessor controller 16 for allowing the
microprocessor controller to control and transmit signals
over the transceiver 18. Further, a dual tone multiple

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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frequency decoder 41 is interfaced between the mobile
telephone 18 and the microprocessor controller 16 for
decoding modem signals, or tones, received by the mobile
telephone 18 from the BSCU 14.
B. Base Station Control Unit
The BSCU 14 can be implemented by any conventional
computer with suitable processing capabilities for
implementing the functionality described hereafter. The
BSCU 14 is now described with reference to Figs. 1 and 3H.
In general, as shown in Fig. 1, the HSCU 14 includes
at least one transceiver 26 (for example, a mobile
telephone or RF transceiver) and associated communication
connection 26' dedicated for communication with the one or
more VCU transceivers 18 associated with the respective one
or more VCUs 12. Moreover, the BSCU 14 can communicate to
one or more telephones 29, or student homes, via the
telephone interfaces) 27 and telephone connections) 29'.
As illustrated in- Fig. 3B, the BSCU 14 contains a
conventional processor 2. The processor 2
intercommunicates with and controls the other elements
within the BSCU 14 over a system bus 3. An input devices)
4, for example, a keyboard or mouse, is used to input data
from a user (perhaps a fleet operator) of the BSCU 14, and
an output devices) 5, such as a display or printer, is
used to output data to the user. A nonvolatile storage
device 6, for example, a hard disk drive or CDROM
mechanism, may be used to permanently store the software of
the HSCU 14, as well as to store-the data bases generated
by the,HSCU 14.
A high speed volatile memory 7, such as a conventional
random access memory (RAM), contains the software for
driving the processor 2 during operation of the BSCU 14.
Particularly, the RAM 7 is loaded with a conventional
operating system software (e.g., DOS, UNIX, etc.) for

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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supporting and implementing other software programs for
implementing various novel features of the BSCU 14. These
other software programs preferably include a preset
notification time period mechanism 9, a calling report
generator 11, a vehicle progress report generator 13, and
a base station control program 46 (Fig. 5) that has a
vehicle communications program 47, and a student calling
program 48. The foregoing software programs are loaded as
needed into the RAM 7, as needed, by the processor 2.
The preset notification time period mechanism 9
permits a system user to define a preset notification time
period when he or she is to receive a telephone call prior
to arrival of a vehicle 19 at a vehicle stop to thereby
indicate impending arrival of the vehicle 19 at the stop.
The preset notification time period mechanism 9 can be
implemented in sof tware in many dif f erent w manners , as is
well known to someone with skill in the art. Preferably,
the preset notification time period mechanism 9 allows a
system user or passenger to define the period by (a)
establishing a telephone communication link with the system
telephone interface 27 and (b) providing the preset
notification time period to the mechanism 9 during the
telephone communication link.
The calling report generator 11 can be implemented in
a variety of ways in software and is preferably configured
to permit the system user to solicit a calling report
corresponding to one or more previous telephone calls made
by the system telephone interface 27 to the system user
telephone 29. In order to obtain the calling report, the
user (a) establishes a telephone communication link with
the system telephone interface 27 and (b) requests the
report. In turn, the calling report generator 11 provides
the calling report to the user in real time during the
telephone communication link. The calling report can be
configured to indicate whether the user telephone 29 was
busy, was answered, was not answered, or was out of

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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service, when the system telephone interface 27 initiated
the previous telephone calls) to the user telephone 29.
Further, the calling report can be designed to include a
times) when the previous telephone calls) was (were)
initiated by the system telephone interface 27 to the user
telephone 29.
The vehicle progress report generator 13 may be
implemented in many different ways in software and is
configured to permit the user to solicit a vehicle progress
report relating to arrival of the vehicle 19 at the vehicle
stop. Preferably, a user can solicit a vehicle progress
report from the vehicle progress report generator 13 by (a)
establishing a telephone communication link with the system
telephone interface 27 and (b) requesting the report. In
turn, the vehicle progress report generator 13 provides the
report to the user in real time during the telephone link.
When the vehicle l9 is currently approaching the stop, a
time indicating when the vehicle 19 is to arrive at the
stop can be specified in the vehicle progress report . When
the vehicle 19 has already arrived at the stop, a past
arrival time. can be specified in the progress report.
Furthermore, the progress report may include a times) when
a previous calls) was initiated by the system telephone
interface 27 to the user telephone 29.
As shown in Fig. 3H, the HSCU 14 further includes at
least one transceiver 26 (for example, a mobile telephone
or RF transceiver) and associated communication connection
26' dedicated for communication with the one or more VCU
transceivers 18 associated with the respective one or more
VCUs 12. The vehicle communications program 47 (Fig. 5)
drives the processor 2 to control the transceiver 26 and
communications associated therewith.
The BSCU 14 can communicate to one or more user
telephones 29, or student homes, via the telephone
interfaces) 27 and telephone connections) 29~. The
telephone interface 27 can be, for example but not limited

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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to, any of the following interfaces: (a) a voice cards)
(preferably multiple port) and/or telephone; (b) a high-
speed switch-computer applications interfaces) (SCAI) that
communicates to a digital switch operated by a telephone
utility company; the SCAI adheres to the conventional OSI
model and supports the carrying of application information
in an application independent fashion; and (c) an interface
that communicates with an analog display services
interfaces) (ADSI) maintained by a telephone utility '
company. ADSI is a cost effective technology that delivers
voice and data information between a telephone terminal and
a digital switch or server using existing copper telephone
lines.
The BSCU 14 could be configured to merely call users,
thus warning them of the impending arrival of a bus 19, as
opposed to forwarding both a call and a message.
Specifically, the student calling program 48 (Fig. 5) for
the advance notification system 10 can be designed to make
the telephone calls to the homes 36 of the students and
allow the telephone to ring a predefined number of times so
that it is not necessary for~the telephone to be answered
in order for the telephone call to be recognized as that of
the advance notification system 10.
The student calling program 48 (Fig. 5) associated
with the advance notification system 10. can also be
configured to make the user telephone 29 exhibit a
distinctive telephone ring sound, or pattern, so that the
call recipient need not answer the telephone in order to
receive the message. The distinctive telephone ring can be
coded by any sequence and duration of rings and/or silent
periods. A standard ring signal that is sent to a
telephone from the telephone utility company is typically
a periodic electrical- analog signal having a frequency of
20 Hz and a peak-to-peak voltage amplitude of -48 volts.
The ring signal is asserted on the telephone connection 29'
for a predefined time period for ringing the telephone.

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The foregoing time period can be manipulated in order to
derive a distinctive sequence and duration of rings and/or
silent periods.
Implementation of a distinctive telephone ring can be
accomplished by purchasing this feature from a telephone
utility company. This feature is widely available to the
public. Generally, telephone utility companies operate
network switches, now usually digital, that serve as
interfaces for telephonic communications. A particular
geographic~region is typically allocated to a particular
switch(s). In essence, one or more distinctive telephone
rings can be driven by software running in the switches to
a particular telephone. Examples of switches that are
commercially available to telephone utility companies are
as follows: a model DMS100 by Northern Telecom, Canada; a
model 5ESS by AT&T, U.S.A.; and a model EWSD by Siemans
Stromberg-Car~lson Corp., Germany.
The feature for establishing the distinctive telephone
ring is sold to the public under several different
commercial trade names, depending upon the telephone
utility company. Examples are as follows: Call Selector
by Northern Telecom, Canada; Ringmaster by Bell South,
U.S.A.; Smartlink by SNET, U.S.A.; Multi-ring by Ameritech,
U.S.A.; Priority Ring by PacBell, U.S.A.; Priority Call by
Cincinnati Bell, U.S.A.; and Ring Me by Standard Telephone
Co., U.S.A.
Furthermore, in the case where a parent or a student
answers the telephone call from the base station unit 14,
a prerecorded message may be played by the BSCU 14. An
example of such a message would be: "The bus will arrive in
five minutes," as indicated in Fig. 1 at the reference
numeral 30.

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II. System Operation
A. Initialization
Initially, the bus schedule for each bus 19 is
programmed into the advance notification system 10 by
having the respective bus driver drive his respective bus
one time along the corresponding scheduled bus route at the
approximate speed the bus would usually travel on the route
and with the bus driver making all the scheduled stops
along the route and waiting at each stop for the
approximate time it would take for all the students at that
stop to board the bus 19. As the bus driver drives the bus
19 along the route for initialization purposes, the
internal real time clock 24 runs and the bus driver
actuates the switches 21, 22, 23 as required in accordance
with the principles described previously. The timing
information is recorded in the memory (RAM 44 and EEPROM
43) of the VCU 12.
The timing information which is recorded during the
initialization of the system 10 is used as a reference
during the usual operation of the system 10 for the purpose
of determining whether a bus 19 is early or late at each of
the bus stops. In the preferred embodiment, determining
the status (i.e., early, on time, late) of a bus 19 is
accomplished by comparing the time at which a bus 19
actually departs from a stop to the scheduled time of
departure.
However, it should be emphasized that other
methodologies could be utilized for determining whether the
bus 19 is early or late at an instance in time. For
example, the odometer 25a of the bus 19 , as indicated by
phantom lines in Fig. 1, could be monitored by the
microprocessor controller 16. At particular times, the
odometer mileage reading could be compared to reference
odometer mileage readings which were obtained during the
initialization of the system 10. In this' way, the
determination of whether a bus 19 is early or late can

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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occur at any time during a bus route and can occur as many
times as desired.
Another methodology which could be utilized for
determining whether the bus 19 is early or late involves
interfacing the VCU 12 with the positioning system 25e, as
shown in Fig. 1 by phantom lines. From the geographical
position data received from the positioning system 25e, the
microprocessor controller 16 could determine where the bus
19 is situated on the earth at any given time. The bus
location at a particular time could then be compared with
scheduled locations and scheduled times in order to
determine whether the bus 19 is early or late and by what
amount.
- B. Recrular Operation
The overall operation of the advance notification
system 10 will be described with reference to Figs. 4A and
4H. Fig. 4A sets forth a flow chart showing the overall
operation after the system 10 has been initialized. Fig.
4B shows an example of a schedule of possible events and
the interactions which might occur between the VCU 12 and
the BSCU 14 as the bus 19 travels along its scheduled route
and makes its scheduled stops.
In Fig. 4H, the left hand column illustrates the
sequence of events for the BSCU 14, and the right hand
column illustrates the sequence of events on the VCU 12.
Between the right and left hand columns is illustrated a
time line for the scheduled bus stops. The time line has
the following time designations: ten minutes, sixteen
minutes, and twenty-two minutes, all along the scheduled
bus route.
First, the bus ignition is switched on, as indicated
in Fig. 4A at block 45a. At the beginning of the bus
route, the system 10 could be configured to automatically
initialize itself upon power up of the VCU 12, and further,
the unit 12 could be programmed to make initial contact

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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with the BSCU 14 after the bus' 19 moves a predefined
distance, such as 1/8 mile, as determined by the odometer
sensor 25a. This initialization action causes the
microprocessor controller 16 to telephone the HSCU 12 to
inform the BSCU 12 that the bus 19 is beginning its route
and to initialize the BSCU 14 relative to the VCU 12. The
foregoing action is indicated at flow chart block 45b (Fig.
4A). Alternatively, the bus driver can press the
start/reset switch 21 on the VCU 12 to initialize the VCU
12.
After initialization of the VCU 12, the display module
33 preferably displays "Stop Number 1" followed by the
amount of time to reach stop number 1. The time
continuously runs as the bus 19 progresses along the bus
route.
Next, as indicated at flow chart block 45c (Fig. 4A),
the VCU 12 determines, continuously or periodically, if the
bus 19 is on time by analyzing the status of devices 21-25
(Fig. 1) in view of planned route data (derived from
initialization). In the preferred embodiment, the VCU 12
at least compares its elapsed time from the clock 24 (Fig.
1) with its scheduled time from the planned route data.
When the bus 19 is on time, the VCU 12 does not contact the
HSCU 14, and the BSCU 14 commences calling students at the
predeffined time prior to arrival of the bus 19 at the
particular bus stop, as indicated in flow chart block 45e
(Fig. 4A). In the example of Fig. 4B, at five minutes
along the scheduled route, the BSCU 14 places a telephone
call to the homes 36 of the school children to be picked up
at bus stop number 1.
However, when the VCU 12 determines that the bus 19 is
early or late at this juncture, the VCU 12 contacts the
HSCU 14, as indicated at flow chart block 45d (Fig. 4A),
and the BSCU 14 adjusts its student calling lists
accordingly so that the students are called in accordance
with the predefined time notice, e.g., five minutes.

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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Further, as indicated at flow chart block 45f (Fig.
4A), the VCU Z2 again determines, continuously or
periodically, if the bus 19 is on time by analyzing the
devices 21-25 (Fig. 1). Preferably, in this regard, the
VCU 12 at least compares its elapsed time with its
scheduled time.
Back to the example of Fig. 4B, at ten minutes along
the schedule, the bus 19 arrives at the bus stop number 1
and takes one minute to load all the students at this stop
onto the bus 19. Just prior to leaving stop 1, the bus
driver actuates the move forward switch 22. Upon actuating
the move forward switch 22, the display module 33
preferably displays F-stop Number 2~~ followed by the amount
of time to reach stop number 2. The foregoing feedback
signal may be generated by one of the sensors 25a-25e so
that the bus driver need not actuate the move forward
switch 22.
In accordance with flow chart block 45f (Fig. 4A), the
microprocessor controller 16 checks the elapsed time of
eleven minutes to confirm that such time corresponds to the
programmed time for bus stop number 1. It will determine
whether the bus 19 is early or late. If the bus 19 is
either eaxly or late, the VCU 12 will call the BSCU 14 to
inform the unit 14 of this fact, as indicated at flow chart
blocks 45g and 45h (Fig. 4A). If the bus 19 is on time,
then the VCU 12 will continue to monitor the inputs from
devices 21-25, as indicated in flow chart block 45j. In
the example of Fig. 4B, it is assumed that the bus 19 is
neither early nor late in leaving bus stop number 1.
Because the bus 19 is scheduled to arrive at bus stop
number 2 at sixteen minutes along the route, at eleven
minutes along the route the BSCU 14 places telephone calls
to the homes 36 of the school children who board the bus 19
at bus stop number 2, as indicated at flow chart block 45k
(Fig. 4A).

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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The bus 19 then arrives at bus stop number 2 and
commences the boarding of students. However, because one
of the school children is running late that particular
morning, the bus 19 spends three minutes at bus stop number
2, and, thus, gets three minutes behind schedule. Thus,
the bus departs at twenty minutes along the route.
At this time, the VCU 12 makes an inquiry as to
whether there are any more bus stops, as indicated in flow
chart block 451. If so, then the VCU 12 again monitors its
travel status by checking devices 21-25 (Fig. 1), in
accordance with flow chart block 45f (Fig. 4A). If not,
then the VCU 12 notifies the BSCU 14 of the end of the
route, as indicated at flow chart block 45m.
In the example of Fig. 4B, upon receiving the
information that the bus 19 is late, the microprocessor
controller 16 compares the departure time to the scheduled
departure time of seventeen minutes, pursuant to flow chart
block 45f (Fig. 4A), and determines that the bus 19 is
three minutes behind schedule, in accordance with flow
chart blocks 45g (Fig. 4A). The microprocessor controller
16 then telephones the BSCU 14 to inform the BSCU 14 that
the bus 19 is three minutes behind schedule, as indicated
in flow chart block 45h (Fig. 4A). A fleet operator's
screen associated with the BSCU 14 is updated to reflect
the status of the late bus 19, as indicated at flow chart
block 45i (Fig. 4A). Moreover, as indicated at flow chart
block 45d (Fig. 4A), the BSCU 14 then reschedules the
telephone calls that are to be made to the parents of the
students at bus stop number 3 from twenty-two minutes along
the route to twenty-five minutes along the route and resets
the VCU 12 to seventeen minutes along the route, the
scheduled time for the bus to leave bus stop number 2.
At twenty minutes along the route, the BSCU 14 calls
the student homes 36 of the students corresponding to bus
stop number 3, in accordance with flow chart block 45k
(Fig. 4A), to inform them that the bus 19 is five minutes

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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from arriving. At twenty-five minutes along the route, the
bus 19 arrives at bus stop 3, takes one minute to load the
students on to the bus 19 and then proceeds onto the
school.
At this time, the VCU 12 makes an inquiry as to
whether there are any more bus stops, as indicated in flow
chart block 451. In the example of Fig. 4B, there are no
more stops and, accordingly, the VCU 12 notifies the BSCU
l4 of the end of the route, as indicated at flow chart
block 45m.
Finally, worth noting is that the system 10 may be
configured so that if a bus 19 becomes delayed by more than
a maximum length of time, such as fifteen minutes, the BSCU
14 immediately calls the homes 36 of the remaining students
to board the bus 19 in order to notify these homes 36 of
the unusual delay and to notify these homes 36 to wait for
a notification call.
III. Control Programs
Figs. 5 through 7 show flow charts pertaining to
control programs that implement control processes or
algorithms of the advance notification system 10 of Fig. 1
in order to achieve the functionality as set forth in Figs.
4A and 4H as described hereinbefore. These flow charts
illustrate the best mode for practicing the invention at
the time of filing this document. More specifically, Fig.
illustrates a base station control program 46 employed in
the HSCU 14, and Figs. 6 and 7 show respectively a vehicle
control program 76 and a VCU call control program 101
implemented in the VCU 12. The foregoing control programs
implement merely examples of plausible control algorithms,
and an infinite number of control algorithms may be
employed to practice the present invention. Furthermore,
it should be noted that the base station control program 46
of Fig. 5 is implemented via software within any
conventional computer system, and the vehicle control

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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program 76 of Fig. 6 and the VCU call control program 101
of Fig. 7 are both implemented via software run from RAM 44
(Fig. 3A) by the microprocessor controller 16. However,
these control operations need not be implemented in
software and could be implemented perhaps in hardware or
even manually by human interaction.
A. Base Station Control Program
With reference to Fig. 5, the base station control
program 46 essentially comprises two control subprograms
which run concurrently, namely, (a) a vehicle
communications program 47 and (b) a student calling program
48. The vehicle communications program 47 will be
described immediately hereafter followed by the student
calling program 48.
1. Vehicle Communications Program
The vehicle communications program 47 initially waits
for a telephone call from one of the VCUs 22 located on one
of the plurality of buses 19, as indicated by a flow chart
block 51. The vehicle communications program 47 is
preferably capable of monitoring a plurality of telephone
connections 26' for receiving information from a plurality
of buses 19. As the number of buses 19 is increased, the
number of telephone connections 26' which are monitored by
the vehicle communications program 47 should also be
increased to an extent.
After the start of a bus 19 along its route, the
respective VCU 12 will initiate a telephone call to the
BSCU 14, as indicated by the telephone bell symbol 52.
After the BSCU 14 receives the telephone call, a string of
symbols is exchanged between the VCU 12 and the BSCU 14 so
as to validate the communication connection, as indicated
in a flow chart block 53. In other words, the BSCU 14
ensures that it is in fact communicating with the VCU 12,
and vi ce versa .

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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Next, as shown in a flow chart block 54, the HSCU 14
asks the VCU 12 for information regarding (a) the time into
the route and (b) the number designating the next stop. In
addition, route data 56 is obtained from a local data base.
The route data 56 includes information pertaining to each
bus stop and how much time it should take to reach each bus
stop during the route. From the route data 56 and the
information (a) and (b), as indicated previously, received
from the VCU 12, the HSCU 14 can determine whether the bus
19 is late or early, as indicated by flow chart blocks 57,
S8, or whether the bus 19 has just started its route, as
indicated by a flow chart block 59. In the case where the
bus 19 is late, the BSCU 14 advises the VCU 12 to reset its
on-board clock 24 back so that it thinks it is on time, as
indicated in a flow chart block 61. In the case where the
bus 19 is early, the BSCU 14 advises the VCU 12 to move its
on-board clock 24 forward so that the VCU 12 thinks it is
on time, as indicated in flow chart block 62. Moreover, in
the situation where the bus I9 has just started its route
and the telephone call is essentially the first call of the
route, the base station clock 28 and the on-board vehicle
clock 24 are synchronized, as indicated in a flow chart
block 63.
Finally, as shown in a flow chart block 64, the BSCU
14 informs the VCU 12 to terminate the telephone call,
which was initiated in the flow chart block 51. The
vehicle communications program 47 then proceeds once again
r
to the flow chart block 51, where it will remain until
receiving another telephone call from the bus 19.
Worth noting from the foregoing discussion is the fact
that the BSCU 14 is the ultimate controller of the advance
notification system 10 from a hierarchical vantage point.
The base station clock 28 maintains the absolute time of
the advance notification system 10, while the vehicle clock
24 assumes a subservient role and is periodically reset
when the bus 19 is at the start of a route or when the bus

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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19 is either early or late during the route. Further, it
should be noted that the VCU 12 communicates to the BSCU 14
only (a) when the bus 19 is at the start of a route, (b)
when the bus 19 is either early or late during the route,
and (c) when the bus 19 completes its route, so as to
minimize the amount of time on the mobile telephone network
and associated costs thereof.
2. Student calling program
As previously mentioned, the student calling program
48 runs concurrently with the vehicle communications
program 47 within the BSCU 14. In essence, the student
calling program 48 uses the timing information retrieved
from the bus 19 by the vehicle communications program 47 in
_ order to call students and inform them of the approaching
bus 19. A student list 66 is locally accessible from a
local data base by the BSCU 14 and comprises information
regarding (a) student names, (b) student telephone numbers,
and (c) the time into a bus route when a student should be
called via telephone. In accordance with the student
calling program 48, as indicated in a flow chart block 67,
the student list 66 is consulted as time progresses and
telephone numbers are retrieved. When a particular time
for calling a particular student is reached, the student
calling program 48 initiates a telephone call to the
particular student, as shown in flow chart blocks 68, 69.
The telephone call can be made by using a distinctive
telephone ring or a predefined number ~of rings, as
described previously. Moreover, the particular time is
fully selectable by programming.
Also worth noting is that the program can also include
a feature for monitoring calls to be placed in the future.
In accordance with this feature, upon anticipation of a
heavy load of calls, some of the calls would be initiated
earlier than the originally scheduled, corresponding call
time.

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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After the bus route has been completed by the bus 19,
the particular bus and bus route are removed from
consideration, as indicated by flow chart blocks 71, 72.
Otherwise, the student calling program 48 returns to the
student list 66 and searches for the next student to be
called.
As further shown in Fig. 5, an event list 73 is
maintained for diagnostics and system monitoring. The
event list 73 receives data from both the vehicle
communication's program 47 and the student calling program
46. The event list 73 essentially comprises records of,
among other things, all telephone calls and all past and
current bus locations.
B. Vehicle Control Program
Reference will now be made to the vehicle control
program 76 shown in Fig. 6. Initially, as indicated in the
flow chart block 77 of the vehicle control program 76, the
VCU 12 runs through an initiation procedure in which the
first stop number is retrieved, the stop time (time
necessary to travel to the next stop) is retrieved, and the
time into the route as indicated by the clock 24 is set at
zero and the clock 24 is started. After the foregoing
initialization procedure, a call is initiated via the
transceiver 18 to the BSCU 14, as indicated by the bell
symbol 78. After the connection, the VCU 12 and the BSCU
14 exchange information as described hereinbefore and which
will be further described hereinafter relative to Fig. 7.
Next, as shown in Fig. 6, the vehicle control program
76 begins a looping operation wherein the VCU 12
continuously monitors the switches 21-23, clock 24, and
sensors 25a-25e, if present, to determine whether the bus
19 is early or late. As mentioned previously, the vehicle
control program 76 initiates a call only at start-up of a

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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route, or when the bus 19 is either early or late, and not
when the bus 19 is on time.
While in the main looping operation, a determination
is first made as to whether the bus 19 has reached the end
of the route, as indicated in a decisional flow chart block
81. If the bus 19 is at the end of its route, then the
vehicle control program 76 stops, as indicated in a flow
chart block 82, and does not start unless the start/reset
switch 21 is triggered by the bus driver. Otherwise, the
program 76 continues and makes a determination as to
whether the bus 19 is late for the next stop, as indicated
in a decisional flow chart block 83. In the preferred
embodiment, the bus 19 is considered late if the bus 19
arrives at a stop more than a predetermined late time
period, such as 50 seconds, after when it should have
arrived. If the bus 19 is late, then a call is initiated
to the BSCU 14, as shown by a bell symbol 84 in Fig. 7.
If the bus is not late, then the program 76 determines
whether any of the switches 21, 22, 23 have been actuated,
as indicated in a decisional flow chart block 86. If none
of the switches 21, 22, 23 have been actuated, then the
program 76 will loop back around and begin flow chart block
81 once again. Otherwise, if actuation of a switch 21, 22,
23 is detected, then the program 76 will determine which of
the switches 21, 22, 23 has been actuated.
First, the program 76 will determine whether the move
forward switch 22 has been actuated, as indicated in the
decision flow chart block 87. If the bus driver has
actuated the move forward switch 22, then the VCU 12 will
retrieve the next stop number and corresponding stop time,
as indicated in flow chart block 88, from a local data base
having the route data 56. Moreover, a decision will be
made as to whether the bus 19 is early for that particular
stop, as indicated in the decision flow chart block 91. Tn
the preferred embodiment, the bus 19 is considered early if
the bus 19 arrives at a stop more than a .predetermined

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
-27-
early time period, such as 50 seconds, earlier than when it
should have arrived. If the bus is not early, then the
program 76 will loop back and proceed again with the flow
chart block 81. Otherwise, a call will be initiated to the
BSCU 14 to inform the,unit 14 that the bus 19 is early, as
illustrated by bell symbol 92 in Fig. 7.
In the event that the bus driver has not actuated the
move forward switch 22, the program 76 proceeds to a
decisional flow chart block 93 wherein the program 76
determines whether the move backward switch 23 has been
actuated by the bus driver. If the move backward switch 23
has been actuated, then the program 76 obtains the previous
stop number and stop time, as indicated in flow chart block
94, displays these values on the display screen, and loops
back to begin again with the flow chart block 81.
In the event that the bus driver has not actuated the
move backward switch 23, then the program 76 determines
whether the bus driver has actuated the start/reset switch
__ 21, as indicated in the decisional flow chart block 96. If
the start/reset switch 23 has not been actuated by the bus
driver, then the program 76 loops back and begins again
with the flow chart block 81. Otherwise, the program 76
loops back and begins again with the flow chart block 77.
C. VCU Call Control Program
When a call is initiated by the VCU 12 as indicated by
the call symbols 78, 84, 92, the VCU 12 follows the VCU
call control program 101 as illustrated in Fig. 7.
Initially, if a mobile telephone is used by the VCU 12, the
telephone number corresponding with the HSCU 14 is obtained
from the EEPROM 43, as indicated in a flow chart block 102.
Other information is also obtained, including among other
things, the particular bus number, bus serial number, and
bus route. Next, the VCU call control program 101 sets a
time out variable to keep track of how many times a
communication connection has been initiated. The number n

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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of allowable attempts is predetermined and is stored in the
EEPROM 43.
After the time out variable has been implemented as
indicated in the flow chart block 103, the VCU call control
program 101 causes the transceiver 18 to be called, as
indicated in the flow chart block 104. The call control
program 101 requires the VCU 12 to wait for a response from
the BSCU 14. If the VCU 12 does not receive a response
within a predetermined time out period, preferably 20
seconds, then the VCU call control program 101 loops back
and begins again at the flow chart block 103. Otherwise,
when the VCU call control program 101 determines that a
response has been received, a validation procedure ensues,
as indicated in a flow chart block 108. The validation
process indicated at the flow chart block 108 is that which
was described previously relative to the flow chart block
53 of Fig. 5. Essentially, it involves the exchange of
symbols in order to assure a proper connection.
At the commencement of the validation process, another
time out variable is set and will trigger termination of
the telephone connection after a predetermined time period
has run. The initiation of the time out variable and
monitoring of the same is indicated in Fig. 7 at flow chart
block 111. Tf the time out variable triggers termination
of the telephone connection, then the VCU call control
program 101 will hang up and end the call, as illustrated
by a flow chart block 114. Otherwise, when the validation
procedure has fully commenced, commands are passed from the
BSCU 14 to the VCU 12, as shown by a frow chart block 112.
Commands which may be sent to the VCU 12 include, for
example, the following: (1) Is the bus 19 either early or
late?; (2) Reset the vehicle clock 24; (3) Record new
information in the EEPROM 43. It should be emphasized that
the BSCU 14 may change the route information contained
within the EEPROM 43 of the particular bus 19. The

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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foregoing features enables extreme flexibility of the
advance notification system 10.
Furthermore, the VCU call control program 101
determines whether the BSCU 14 has finished its
communication over the mobile telephone, as indicated in a
flow chart block 113. Again, the VCU call control program
101 utilizes another time out variable to determine whether
the BSCU 14 has finished. After the predetermined time
period of the time out variable, the VCU call control
program 101 will assume that the BSCU 14 has terminated its
communication, and accordingly, the VCU call control
program 101 will hang up the telephone, as indicated in a
flow chart block 114. Otherwise, the VCU call control
program 101 will loop back and begin with the flow chart
block 111 in order to accept another command from the BSCU
14.
IV. Management Of BSCU Hy A User
In the preferred embodiment of the invention, a user
of the system 10 can communicate with and manage the BSCU
14 of the system 10 through an interactive system, such as
an interactive voice response system (IVR) or other
suitable communication system. This interactive system
provides the user with flexibility and control over the
calling parameters and the ability to solicit information,
i.e., reports. When a user calls into the system 10, the
user may (a) enroll and/or make changes to the calling
parameters of the HSCU 14, including defining the preset
notification time period when the user is to receive a
telephone call prior to arrival of the vehicle 29 at the
stop (to thereby indicate impending arrival of the vehicle
29), (b) obtain a vehicle progress report so as to check on
vehicle delays or if the user has missed the vehicle,
and/or (c) receive a calling report on the last
notification attempt.

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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Moreover, in accordance with a security feature of the
present invention, the BSCU 14 is configured so that when
a user requests any of the foregoing information, the
telephone number of the user telephone 29 is checked by the
BSCU 14. If a user's telephone service has the
commercially available feature typically known as "calling
line identification," the BSCU 14 compares the caller's
telephone number with a previously-registered number
(reference caller identification number) stored in the
student list database 66 (Fig. 5). If the incoming number
does not match or if the telephone connection does not
provide the calling line identification, then the user is
prompted to enter his/her telephone number to the BSCU 14.
Moreover, the telephone number received by the BSCU 14 must
be the one registered in the BSCU 14 for the aforementioned
options to be used.
A. Call Back Feature
Initially, in the preferred embodiment, when
enrollment is requested by a user, the BSCU 14 of the
system 10 requests the user to enter its phone number, and
the telephone number is registered. The BSCU 14 then calls
the user back at the telephone number registered in the
BSCU 14 to confirm, before the user can change calling
parameters or solicit information from the BSCU 14.
If a system user's telephone service has the
commercially available feature typically known as "calling
line identification," the BSCU 14 can recognize the
directory number. In that case, the BSCU 14 will not have
to call the user back to register, and enrollment can
continue.
Likewise, once registered and if a subscribing user
with calling line identification requests to use an option,
the telephone number does not have to be entered. The
interactive voice response system (IVR) can recognize the
number delivered through calling line identification.

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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H. Initiation of Svstem Use
The service provided by the system 10 can be started
when the system user calls into the interactive voice
response system (IVR) from a telephone 29, preferably a
touch-tone telephone. The system user receives a prompt to
enter his/her telephone number. The user hangs up, and the
BSCU Z4 calls the system user back, unless calling line
identification is in use as described previously.
Changes are only allowed if the telephone number
derived from the calling line identification matches the
BSCU registered number or if the entered telephone number
matches the registered number.
An example illustrating the foregoing process follows.
In the example, as well as the others that follow, the
system 10 utilizes the trade name "Bus-Call," which is
currently a federally registered trademark on the Principal
Register at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Example Session
IVR: "Welcome to Bus-Call. Please enter your
telephone number now."
Sub: <Keypad numbers pressed>
IVR: "The number you entered is xxx-xxxx. If this is
correct, please press '1,' if not press '2'. The
Bus-Call system will call you back within a
couple of minutes. Thank you and please hang up
now."
Sub: <Answers returned call>
IVR: "Hello, thank you for using the Bus-Call system.
Please press:
'1' to start the Bus-Call service to your home;
'2' to change the notification time;
' 3' for the date and time of the last change made
to Bus-Cali."
C. Service Inception
In the preferred embodiment, with the implementation
of the IVR, the BSCU 14 provides voice prompts to guide the
user through a telephone call when the user wishes to
configure the BSCU 14 or retrieve information.
In the preferred configuration, voice prompts ask for
the (a) bus number and the (b) stop number. These two

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
-32-
pieces of information are usually given by the bus driver
the first time the student rides the bus 29. The
information can be taken from the VCU display module 33
(Fig. 3A) of the VCU 12 and/or written on a marketing
brochure in which the student takes home.
Information can be entered into the HSCU 14 and
retrieved from the BSCU 14, after the bus number and stop
number are confirmed, as the HSCU 14 will provide an
appropriate options menu to the caller. An example
illustrating the foregoing process follows.
Example Session
Sub: <The system user calls in and enters the
appropriate option to start Bus-Call service>
IVR: "Please enter your bus number now."
Sub: <Keypad number pressed>
IVR: "The number you entered is xx. If this is
correct please press '1.' If this number is
incorrect please press '2."'
Sub: <Keypad number pressed>
IVR: "Please enter your bus stop number now."
Sub: <Keypad number pressed"
IVR: The number you entered is xx. If this is correct
please press '1.' If this number is incorrect,
please press '2."'
Sub: <Keypad number pressed>
D. Preset Notification Time Period
The preset notification time period mechanism 9 (Fig.
3H) permits the user to define a preset notification time
period when the user is to receive a telephone call prior
to arrival of a vehicle 19 at a vehicle stop to thereby
indicate impending arrival of the vehicle 19 at the stop.
The preset notification time period can be provided by the
user to BSCU 14 by depressing touch tone buttons on the
user telephone 29 or other telephone.
If the period is not prescribed by the user, the
default for the notification time period is set to any
suitable period, such as five minutes. Moreover, the user
prescribed time period or the default time period is
announced to the user. Finally, if a change of the preset

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
-33-
notification time period is needed, the user is prompted
through the process. An example of the foregoing
methodology is set forth hereafter.
Example Session
Sub: <The system user calls in and enters the


appropriate option to start Bus-Call service>


IVR: "Please enter your bus number now."


Sub: <Keypad number pressed>


IVR: "The number you entered is xx. If this is


correct please press '1.' If this number is


incorrect please press '2.'"


Sub: <Keypad number pressed>


IVR: "Please enter your bus stop number now."


Sub: <Keypad number pressed"


IVR: The number you entered is xx. If this is correct


please press '1.' If this number is incorrect,


please press '2."'


Sub: <Keypad number pressed>


IVR: Bus-Call will ring your telephone five minutes


before the bus arrives. If five minutes is not


enough time, press '1.' If five minutes is OK,


press '2.'"


Sub: <Keypad number pressed>


IVR: "Thank you"


or


"Please enter the new notification time now."


<Keypad number pressed>


"The time you entered is xx minutes. If this is


correct, press '1.' If this number is incorrect,


press '2.'


<Keypad number pressed>


"Thank you."


D. Vehicle Progress Report
The vehicle progress report generator 13 (Fig. 3B) in
the BSCU 14 allows a system user to solicit information
from the BSCU Z4 pertaining to the progress of the vehicle
29 relative to its route and/or relative to a particular
stop. A system user may feel that the vehicle 29 was
missed. By calling the BSCU 14 and pressing the
appropriate option, the IVR provides information about the
current vehicle location.

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
-34-
Example Session
IVR: "Press (3) if you think you have missed the
buS."
Sub: <Keypad (3) pressed>
IVR: "Please enter your telephone number now."
Sub: <Keypad numbers pressed>
IVR: "The bus has..."
"...Already passed your stop. The Bus-Call
system called your telephone number at 7:27 a.m.
and received a busy signal. The bus stopped at
7:32 a.m."
or
"...Has not arrived and is approaching your stop
in approximately 12 minutes."
E. Calling Report
The calling report generator I1 (Fig. 3B) in the BSCU
14 allows a system user to solicit a calling report from
the BSCU 14. The calling report can indicate, among other
things, the times) and outcomes) of any previous
notification attempts) by the BSCU 14 to the user
telephone 29. The BSCU 14 can be programmed to make any
number of attempts, but preferably, the BSCU 14 makes three
attempts to provide notification.
Example Session
IVR: "Press (4) if you would like a report on the last
notification attempt."
Sub: <Keypad (4) pressed>
IVR: "Please enter your telephone number now."
Sub: <Keypad numbers pressed>
IVR: "The Bus-Call system called your telephone number
at 7:15 a.m. on Monday, February 20..."
"...The call was answered."
or
"...The telephone was busy."
or .
"...The telephone rang but was not answered."
or ,
"...The telephone number was not in service or
called block was engaged."
This calling report generator 11 can also be
configured to allow the system user to check on the last
changes made to the calling parameters. In this

CA 02528647 1996-10-04
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configuration, the IVR gives the change made and the date
the change was requested by the system user.
It will be obvious to those skilled in the art that
many modifications may be made to the preferred embodiment
of the present invention, as set forth above, without
departing substantially from the principles of the present
invention. All such modifications are intended to be
included herein within the scope of the present invention,
as defined in the following claims.

A single figure which represents the drawing illustrating the invention.

For a clearer understanding of the status of the application/patent presented on this page, the site Disclaimer , as well as the definitions for Patent , Administrative Status , Maintenance Fee  and Payment History  should be consulted.

Admin Status

Title Date
Forecasted Issue Date 2010-04-06
(22) Filed 1996-10-04
(41) Open to Public Inspection 1998-04-09
Examination Requested 2005-10-27
(45) Issued 2010-04-06
Expired 2016-10-04

Payment History

Fee Type Anniversary Year Due Date Amount Paid Paid Date
Request for Examination $800.00 2005-10-27
Registration of Documents $100.00 2005-10-27
Registration of Documents $100.00 2005-10-27
Registration of Documents $100.00 2005-10-27
Registration of Documents $100.00 2005-10-27
Filing $400.00 2005-10-27
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 2 1998-10-05 $100.00 2005-10-27
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 3 1999-10-04 $100.00 2005-10-27
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 4 2000-10-04 $100.00 2005-10-27
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 5 2001-10-04 $200.00 2005-10-27
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 6 2002-10-04 $200.00 2005-10-27
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 7 2003-10-06 $200.00 2005-10-27
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 8 2004-10-04 $200.00 2005-10-27
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 9 2005-10-04 $200.00 2005-10-27
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 10 2006-10-04 $250.00 2006-09-25
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 11 2007-10-04 $250.00 2007-09-28
Registration of Documents $100.00 2007-11-28
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 12 2008-10-06 $250.00 2008-09-23
Reinstatement: Failure to Pay Application Maintenance Fees $200.00 2010-01-08
Final $300.00 2010-01-08
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 13 2009-10-05 $250.00 2010-01-08
Maintenance Fee - Patent - New Act 14 2010-10-04 $250.00 2010-09-17
Maintenance Fee - Patent - New Act 15 2011-10-04 $450.00 2011-09-30
Maintenance Fee - Patent - New Act 16 2012-10-04 $450.00 2012-09-17
Maintenance Fee - Patent - New Act 17 2013-10-04 $450.00 2013-09-17
Maintenance Fee - Patent - New Act 18 2014-10-06 $450.00 2014-10-06
Maintenance Fee - Patent - New Act 19 2015-10-05 $450.00 2015-10-05
Registration of Documents $100.00 2016-04-04
Current owners on record shown in alphabetical order.
Current Owners on Record
SHIPPING AND TRANSIT, LLC
Past owners on record shown in alphabetical order.
Past Owners on Record
ARRIVAL STAR, INC.
DOVDEN INVESTMENTS, LTD.
GLOBAL RESEARCH SYSTEMS, INC.
JONES, MARTIN KELLY
Past Owners that do not appear in the "Owners on Record" listing will appear in other documentation within the application.

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Abstract 1996-10-04 1 21
Claims 1996-10-04 5 153
Description 1996-10-04 35 1,711
Representative Drawing 2006-02-15 1 15
Cover Page 2006-02-16 1 51
Representative Drawing 2010-03-12 1 18
Drawings 1996-10-04 8 211
Claims 2007-09-26 7 206
Cover Page 2010-03-12 1 52
Claims 2008-08-08 7 218
Correspondence 2006-01-23 1 37
Correspondence 2006-02-14 1 19
Prosecution-Amendment 2008-08-08 16 570
Correspondence 2007-03-06 1 23
Prosecution-Amendment 2007-09-26 9 247
Correspondence 2007-09-26 1 37
Prosecution-Amendment 2008-02-12 3 126
Correspondence 2010-01-08 2 71
Fees 2010-01-08 2 74
Prosecution-Amendment 2008-10-30 1 55