06.06.2017 / Blog / Driverless

China unveils world’s first driverless rail transit system



BEIJING: A Chinese railcar-manufacturer has unveiled the world’s first Autonomous Rail Transit System (ART). The bus-rail combo rapid transit system is expected to speed up public transportation in Zhuzhou, Hunan province of China.

According to the manufacturer CRRC, the ART rubber wheels on a plastic core instead of steel wheels and is equipped with the company’s copyrighted technology to automatically guide the vehicle. The new technology has the advantages of being both a rail and bus transit systems and is agile and environmentally friendly. The new ART system is also much cheaper than ordinary subway systems, which cost about 400-700 million RMB per kilometre and comes in at a fifth of electric cars which cost 150-200 million RMB per kilometre.

CRRC first began designing the ART system back in 2013. The first ART car is 31 metres in length, with a maximum passenger load of 307 people or 48 tonnes. Its top speed is 70 kilometers per hour, and can travel 25 kilometers after charging for 10 minutes.

The world’s first ART line will be launched in Zhuzhou, with a total length of 6.5 kilometres. Upon completion, it will be able to dock with the city’s mid-low speed maglev train.

Google’s Driverless car has ignited curiosity and led to more than a dozen companies take up the driver-less car concept further though it is still far from reality but so is the Flying Car concept that keeps cropping in headlines. The latest to catch attention was Massachusetts-based Terrafugia which is readying its flying car that can travel for 500 miles. Not far behind in the race is an Austria-based firm Slovakia Aeromobil that had showcased its proto-type “Flying Roadster” at Pioneers Festival in Vienna in October 2014.

The concepts vary in mini-plane to the propeller fitted in the rear of a car. Moving away from this design,a startup backed by the Japanese automaker Toyota has developed a proto-type that can fly and help the driver to light the Olympic torch in the 2020 Tokyo games.

Japan startup Cartivator Resource Management is working on “Sky Drive” model with an aluminimum frame and eight propellers which was able to fly up to five feet in air before falling to the ground supported by footballs tied in the bottom. Toyota has invested $400,000 in the project “Sky Drive” so far that has failed to take off at the conept level itself. But undeterred Cartivator is keen to transform driving to flying the way “Back to the Future” envisioned in the film, according to the project leader Tsubasa Nakamura.

“I always loved planes and cars. And my longtime dream was to have a personal vehicle that can fly and go many places,” he told The Associated Press. He found the right partner Toyota to redeem his dream project.

Toyota, which was an auto-loom manufacturer more than a century ago, turned into an auto maker after the World War Two and is now heavily into robotics before toying with ideas on fantasy future travel modes with a five-year $35 million investments at its research facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for autonomous and connected vehicle technologies.



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