CHANGSHA, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) — The world’s first driverless Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit system started a test run in the city of Zhuzhou in central China’s Hunan Province Monday.
The electric vehicles run on an Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit, an urban transport system that has been described as a cross between a bus, train and tram.
The three-carriage vehicle is 32 meters long, has a maximum speed of 70 km per hour and can carry up to 300 passengers. Equipped with sensors, it can read the dimensions of a road.
Currently it travels on a 3.1-km route with four stations, between Shennong Theater and a sports center.
A 9 km long route is also being planned, which will link with the current one to form a loop.
The system and vehicle were developed by the research arm of CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive, which produces key parts for China’s high-speed railway.
Feng Jianghua, chief engineer and vice general manager of the CRRC Zhuzhou subsidiary, said the vehicle had successfully undergone 24 hours of non-stop road tests.
The self-driving system comes as a three-carriage or five-carriage unit. The vehicles can travel for 25 km after a 10-minute charge.
The three-carriage unit will be put into regular service from next year.
The developer said that the system cost just one-fifth a traditional tram system that was priced at 150 million yuan (22.6 million U.S. dollars) to 200 million yuan for each kilometer of the route.