Revolution in public transport: China’s smart bus

China Smart Bus

The world’s first virtual traintrack is unveiled in China. The smart bus, or driverless train, is equipped with sensors that can read the dimensions of roads and plan its own route. Like a train, it’s modular and carriages can be added on; but like a bus, it runs on the road. It follows white-dotted lines on the road, and therefore a train track does not need to be laid. This makes the infrastructure much cheaper and therefore accessible to many more cities than standard railways or metro systems.

The ART, Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit, was developed by the research arm of CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive Co., Ltd., which produces key parts for China’s high-speed railway.

Cheaper than standard railway infrastructures

Most medium-sized and small cities in China cannot afford expensive subway systems, or the systems take too long to build. According to China State media Xinhua, the estimated costs for a standard-length ART bus are around 2.2 million U.S. dollars, while it costs around 58 to 102 million U.S. dollars to build a kilometer of standard metro.

About the smart bus

The driverless train was unveiled in ZhuZou city, in central China’s Hunan Province. It is 32 metres long and  3,4 metres high. It has a top speed of 70 km per hour and can accommodate 307 passengers. The train is equipped with a lithium titanate battery that allows the train to run 25 kilometers, after which it needs 10 minutes of charging.

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According to the government of Zhuzhou City in Hunan Province, a 6.5-kilometer ART line will be built through downtown Zhuzhou and operations will start in 2018.

*) Recommended read: City bus of the future: the e-bus without batteries

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