Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit

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Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART)
智能轨道快运系统 (智轨)[1]
CRRC Autonomous-rail Rapid Transit train at Metro Trans 2018 (20180613150358).jpg
Yibin ART System 10 14 25 131000.jpeg
ManufacturerCRRC Zhuzhou Institute Co Ltd
Family nameGuided bus
Entered serviceInauguration date: 2018[2][3]
Car body constructionSpace frame with bolted-on panels
Train length3 carriages: 31.64 m
(103 ft 9+58 in)
Width2.65 m (8 ft 8+38 in)[4]
Height3.4 m (11 ft 1+78 in)[4]
Low-floorPassenger friendly low floor design[8]
Maximum speed70 km/h (43 mph)[5]
Power supplyLithium–titanate batteries[6]
Wheels drivenRubber wheels on a plastic core[7]
BogiesMulti-axle steering system[6]
Minimum turning radius15 m (49.2 ft)
Track gaugeN/A
  • 307 in 3 carriages[9]
  • 500 in 5 carriages
Max. distance at full charge40 km (25 miles)[2]
Charging time
  • 30 sec for 3 to 5 km
    (1.9 to 3.1 miles): [8]
  • 10 min for 25 km
    (16 miles)[7]
Min. width of lane3.83 m (12.6 ft)[10]
Life expectancy25+ years for body structure
CostApprox. Yuan 15M (USD 2.2M)[6]

Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART, Chinese: 智能轨道快运系统/智轨)[1] is a LiDAR guided articulated bus system for urban passenger transport. Developed by CRRC Zhuzhou Institute Co Ltd, it was unveiled in Zhuzhou in Hunan province on 2 June 2017.[2][3][11]

The product has been described as a crossover between a train, a bus and a tram and is commonly called a "trackless tram".[12] Its external appearance, composed of individual, fixed sections joined together by articulated gangways, resembles a rubber-tyred tram, although it combines the flexibility of an bi-articulated bus with the capacity of light rail or tram. Although the system is labelled as "autonomous" in English, the models produced so far all feature a driving position with a steering wheel and the systems in operation all have a driver.[citation needed]


An ART bus with three carriages is approximately 30 m (98 ft) long and costs approximately 15 million yuan (USD $2.2 million) to build.[6] It can travel at a speed of 70 km/h (43 mph) and can carry up to 300 passengers.[5] A five-carriage bus provides space for 500 passengers.[2][5] A four carriage model was introduced in 2021 which can carry 320 passengers.[13] Two buses can follow each other at close proximity without being mechanically connected similar to multiple unit train control.[10] The entire train has a low-floor design[8] from a space frame with bolted-on panels to support the weight of passengers. It is built as a bi-directional vehicle, with driver's cabs at either end allowing it to travel in either direction at full speed.

The 6.5 km (4.0 miles) long ART lane built through downtown Zhuzhou and inaugurated in 2018.[2] had lanes are at least 3.83 m (12.6 ft) wide[10] and have a minimum turning radius of 15 m (49.2 ft). Both of which are comparable to or better than buses and light rail.

Sensors and batteries[edit]

The ART is equipped with various optical and other sensors to allow the vehicle to automatically following a route defined by a virtual track of markings on the roadway.[2] A steering wheel also allows the driver to manually guide the vehicle, including around detours.[9][10] A Lane Departure Warning System helps to keep the vehicle in its lane and automatically warns, if it drifts away from the lane. A Collision Warning System supports the driver on keeping a safe distance with other vehicles on the road and if the proximity reduces below a given level, it alerts the driver by a warning sign. The Route Change Authorization is a navigation device, which analyzes the traffic conditions on the chosen route and can recommend a detour to avoid traffic congestion. The Electronic Rearview Mirrors work with remotely adjustable cameras and provide a clearer view than conventional mirrors including an auto dimming device to reduce the glare.[6]

The train is powered by lithium–titanate batteries and can travel a distance of 40 km (25 miles) per full charge. The batteries can be recharged via current collectors at stations.[4] The recharging time for a 3 to 5 km (1.9 to 3.1 mi) trip is 30 seconds,[8] and for a 25 km (16 mi) trip, 10 minutes.[7]

Benefits and limitations[edit]

A 2018 academic assessment said Trackless Trams - like ART - are likely to replace both light-rail and bus rapid transit due to their ability to mimic the best qualities of each (low cost and ease of installation of BRT, low emission and high capacity of light-rail) while avoiding their respective defects (pollution and noise of BRT, high installation costs and disruption during construction of light-rail).[citation needed] Despite these apparent advantages, as of July 2021 there are only a limited number of planned systems. This may be as:

-The system is not autonomous

-The system is not rail based, hence has the ride qualities of a bus

-The vehicles can get stuck in road traffic, hence is not true rapid transit.

-As a "gadgetbahn", the vehicles cannot be bought through true competitive tender.

Having no permanent track enables flexible operations according to traffic conditions, e.g. by suggesting detours in the case of road traffic accidents or ongoing construction work. The vehicle based system interacts with an intelligent signal communication feature enabling priority pass at traffic lights. The railless system provides low construction and maintenance cost, because there are no railway tracks to maintain.[6] Using quick charge batteries reduces the need for overhead lines en route between the stations and produces no exhaust gases within urban areas.

A significant advantage is the lower swept path in turns, thus requiring less clearance, due to the multi-axle hydraulic steering technology and bogie-like wheel arrangement.[14] The minimum turning radius of 15 m (16 yd) is similar to buses.

Yibin ART Line T1

Since the ART is a guided bus system, ruts and depressions will be worn into the road by the accurate alignment of the large number of wheels. Reinforcement of the roadway to prevent problems and avoid future maintenance may be as disruptive as the installation of rails of a light rail system. The suitability of the system for winter climate has been considered but not yet been proven on ice and snow. The higher rolling resistance of rubber requires more energy for propulsion than light rail.

The ability to bypass other vehicles stopped at stations would allow express services, similar to some bus rapid transit systems. This is not possible with light-rail systems without significant extra infrastructure and is thus not used. The video for a proposed line in Sydney shows vehicles performing such an manoeuvre.[15]

A few abandoned proposals for light-rail lines have been revived as ART proposals because of its lower projected costs. However a different report - by the Australian Railways Association which supports light rail - said there were reliability issues with ART installations, implying the initial suggested capital cost savings were a false economy.[16] A November 2020 proposal for a trackless tram system in the City of Wyndham, near Melbourne, used a cost of $AU23.53M per kilometre for roadworks, vehicles, recharge point and depots.[17] Recently completed light rail systems in Australia have had costs of between $AU80M and $AU150M per kilometre.[18][19]

The Government of New South Wales had considered the system as an alternative to light rail for a line to connect Sydney Olympic Park to Parramatta. However concerns were raised that there was only one supplier for the technology[20] and also the development of "long articulated buses" was "too much in its preliminary phase" to meet the project deadlines. Instead the plan is to build a light-rail line which will connect to another light-rail already under construction, which will mean passengers will not have to change vehicles.[21] Despite this there are still proposals to use the technology elsewhere in Sydney and in a number of locations in Australia.[22]

List of commercial operation lines[edit]

List of commercial operation lines
Line System Locale Length Stations Opened
Line A1 Chinese: 智能轨道快运A1线 Zhuzhou ART[23] Zhuzhou 3.6 km (2.2 mi)[citation needed] 4[citation needed] 2018-05-18
Line A2 Chinese: 智能轨道快运A2线 Zhuzhou ART Zhuzhou 7.1 km (4.4 mi) 7 + 1 (temporary) 2021-03-30 [24]
Line T1 Chinese: 智轨T1线 Yibin ART[25] Yibin 17.7 km (11.0 mi)[1] 16 2019-12-05
Systems in trial operation
SRT Line 1 Yancheng District SRT Yancheng 13 km (8.1 mi) 17[26][13] 2021-04-16
unknown Yongxiu ART[27] Yongxiu 5 km (3.1 mi)
(total planned 16 km (9.9 mi))
4[28] 2019-03-20[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "宜宾:全球首条智能轨道快运系统运营线开通". 2019-12-05.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "First railless train unveiled in CRRC Zhuzhou". CRRC. 6 June 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  3. ^ a b Xiang Bo: Chinese rail maker develops smart bus. Xinhua, 2 June 2017 20:26. Downloaded on 4. August 2017.
  4. ^ a b c World's first train running on virtual tracks released. New China TV, 2 June 2017. Downloaded on 22 July 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Newman, Peter (September 25, 2018). "Why Trackless Trams Are Ready to Replace Light Rail". The Conversation US. Archived from the original on May 12, 2019. Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Rastogi, Neha. "China Unwraps World's first Driverless Rail Transit System with Autonomous Technology". Engineers Garage. Archived from the original on 2017-08-02. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Amazing World: Track-less train : The transit system uses rubber wheels on a plastic core : Trains without track. 3 June 2017. Downloaded on 22 July 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d Quick charge! Supercapacitor tram unveiled in China. New China TV, 2 June 2017. Downloaded on 22 July 2017.
  9. ^ a b Vocativ: This Train Runs On Virtual Tracks. China Central Television (CCTV), 6 June 2017. Downloaded on 22 July 2017.
  10. ^ a b c d Ken Huang: ART 宣传视频2017. 5 April 2017. Downloaded on 22 July 2017.
  11. ^ Spiegel TV.
  12. ^ "China Built a Self-Driving... Something". Popular Mechanics. 2017-06-06. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  13. ^ a b "全国首条超级虚拟轨道列车来啦!盐城市区SRT一号线16日开通试运行". XHBY. 15 April 2021. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  14. ^ "Looking past the hype about 'trackless trams'". The Conversation. 6 December 2018. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  15. ^ "Western Sydney Airport Light Rail". YouTube. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  16. ^ "ARA cautions against trackless trams, praises light rail". Intrastructure Magazine. 9 June 2021. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  17. ^ "Developing a Transit Activated Corridor – the Wyndham Case Study" (PDF). Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  18. ^ "Why trackless trams are ready to replace light rail". The Conversation. 26 September 2018. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  19. ^ "Why cities planning to spend billions on light rail should look again at what buses can do". The Conversation. 6 April 2021. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  20. ^ "Longer commute, inconvenient, not competitive: Internal report raises trackless tram concerns". Sydney Morning Herald. 30 December 2020. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  21. ^ "Missing link in Sydney's light rail back on track". Sydney Morning Herald. 14 June 2021. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  22. ^ "Melbourne's next generation trams could be trackless with rubber wheels". The Age. 2 May 2021. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  23. ^ The world's first ART demonstration line runs today!
  24. ^ "【带报站侧面视角POV】株洲智轨A2线首通段 湖南工大→株洲站西广场(临时站)". Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  25. ^ China’s New ART T1 Train Runs On Virtual Painted Tracks
  26. ^ "国内首条超级虚拟轨道交通线在盐城"热身"测试". 20 March 2021. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  27. ^ "智轨被纳入行业团体标准晋升"国字号"". 18 July 2021. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  28. ^ "[China Bus] Virtual rail train Yongxiu Jiangxi China". YouTube. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  29. ^ "我国首条县域ART智轨电车在江西永修启动试乘". Sohu. 21 March 2019. Retrieved 26 July 2021.