China has unveiled an innovative public transportation solution to ease commute in the form of a hybrid self-driving vehicle that looks half like a train and half a bus and may be the world's first railless train.
Termed as the Autonomous Rail Transit (ART) the elongated vehicle was shown off in the city of Zhuzhou in Hunan province. The transit looks similar to a train and has three standard train/tube like compartments but runs on a virtual track rather than rails, making it technically a bus.
The ART, which is capable of holding up to 307 passengers and hitting speeds of up to 70km per hour, is currently being tested for 6.5km track in Zhuzhou. CRRC, the company that built the vehicle hopes will be operational by next year. The ART not only aims to tackle congested areas but also the alarming pollution level. It is completely battery operated and can get 15 miles on a 10 minute charge.
As shown in the images it is like a modular train or a modern day tram and carriages can be added or removed to accommodate people. The train-bus hybrid follows a pair of white lines painted on the street and has sensors fitted like autonomous vehicles to avoid obstacles.
Work on the ART began way back in 2013 to ease congestion in China's crowded urban centres. The government also wanted to build a cost-effective solution to traffic congestion and the CRCC has managed to build the ART at nearly the same costs as a regular bus in Chinese urban centres.