As much as trains have evolved over the last few decades, the way we use them and the fundamentals of the way the work hasn’t really changed much at all. China is aiming to change this by introducing driverless trains that follow dotted white lines on a road, rather than tracks.
It’s called ART which stands for Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit and is the world’s first ever smart train. The design looks like it mixes a bus, tram and a train all in one. While it’s guided by the white lines on the pavement, the sensors along its route (combined with sensors on the vehicle itself) help it follow the ‘virtual rails’ and adapt to its surroundings and unexpected situations in real time.
The new designed is aimed at people who find trains and the subway too expensive. For example, it costs up to $102 million to build a kilometer of subway track, yet only $2 million for an entire smart ART bus.
A 4 mile (6.5 km) ART line will be built in the Chinese city of Zhuzhou, with operations starting in 2018.