An autonomous electric train that runs without tracks has been tested in Zhuzhou, in China’s southern Hunan Province. If the experiment is successful, the system may be rolled out – literally – to other Chinese cities in 2018.
The Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART) vehicle, which is made by the CRRC Corporation, runs on rubber tires and follows dotted lines painted on the street. It has a top speed of 70kmh and can carry a total of 300 passengers across three carriages.
The ART is a fifth of the cost of other electric streetcars and cheaper then running a subway. It is therefore aimed at smaller cities that cannot afford the civil engineering and catenary infrastructure needed by a conventional light rail network.
The locomotive, which has a lithium-titanate battery, can cover 40km on a full charge, or about 25km on a 10-minute charge.
The idea was trailed earlier this year, when it was described as "the world’s first smart train".