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China Has Self-Driving Train That Doesn’t Use Tracks And Runs On A Virtual Rail

China Has Self-Driving Train That Doesn’t Use Tracks And Runs On A Virtual Rail

The Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART)​ offers sustainable public transport

Amelia Ward

Amelia Ward

A Chinese developer has created railless trains, that automatically run on any road and can carry up to 500 passengers.

The Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART) was first unveiled in Zhuzhou, Central China, in 2017, and is described an optical guided articulated bus.

The guided bus is somewhere between a train, tram and bus - it runs on rubber tires instead of rails, can travel up to 70km/h and is powered by electricity. It's able to run for 40km on a full charge.

At around 30 metres long, it has sensors that read dimensions of the roads and can plan its own route on what is essentially a virtual rail.

It has a capacity of 100 passengers per carriage, with three and five carriage trains available.

The drivers can switch between using sensors for the virtual track or a steering wheel to make detours.


A sensor system helps drivers to keep the vehicle in lane, but if it does happen to drift away, an automatic warning is given. It also has a collision warning system. This means that the driver is kept a safe distance from vehicles on the road, but if it gets too close, a warning will alert the driver.

If the driver wants to change the route, a navigation device looks at the traffic on the alternative route, before recommending a detour to avoid any congestion, much like Google Maps.

It takes 30 seconds to charge it up for a trip that would take around 2-3 miles, while a 16-mile trip would take 10 minutes to charge.

The system has many benefits, including being able to avoid traffic or road works, creating a more efficient transport system. It also has a priority pass at traffic lights, which encourages users to take public transport.

It's also cheap to maintain thanks to the absence of tracks and no need for overhead lines. It also means there is less pollution because of the rechargeable lithium batteries.


However, the guided bus system means that ruts are created in the road, because of how accurate the alignment of the wheels is.

The 'rapid rail bus' also recently got the go-ahead in Doha, Qatar, where it was tested for use in the 2022 world cup.

It's hoped that Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems will enable the city to host the games with sustainability, with experts saying that the BRT's 'track record provides a compelling case for more cities to consider it as a transit priority'.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: World News, Interesting