A solar-powered automated transportation network (ATN) connecting the North and South campuses of San José State University with three passenger stations was designed, visualized, and analyzed in terms of its energy usage, carbon offset, and cost. The study’s methodology included the use of tools and software such as ArcGIS, SketchUp, Infraworks, Sketchup, Rhinoceros, and Autodesk 3DS Max. ATN vehicle energy usage was estimated using data from the university’s Park & Ride shuttle bus operation and by modeling with SUMOPy, the advanced simulation suite for the micro-traffic simulator SUMO. The energy study showed that an extensive solar photovoltaic (PV) canopy over the guideway and stations is sufficient for the network to run 24/7 in better-than-zero net-metered conditions—even if ridership were to increase 15% above that predicted from SJSU Park & Ride shuttle data. The resulting energy system has a PV-rated output of 6.2 MW, a battery system capacity of 9.8 MWh, and an estimated cost of $11.4 million USD. The solar ATN also produces 98% lower CO2 and PM2.5 emissions compared to the Park & Ride shuttle bus. A team of experts including urban planners, architects, and engineers designed and visualized the conceptual prototype, including a comprehensive video explaining the need for solar ATN and what a typical rider would experience while utilizing the system. This research demonstrates both benefits and challenges for solar-powered ATN, as well as its functionality within the urban built environment to serve diverse San José neighborhoods.

Publication Date


Publication Type



Transit and Passenger Rail, Transportation Technology

Digital Object Identifier


MTI Project



Transportation, Advanced public transportation systems, Personal rapid transit, Solar energy, Visualization


Automotive Engineering | Energy Systems | Transportation