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Autonomous Rapid Transit (ART)
智能轨道快运系统 (智轨)[1]
Family nameGuided bi-articulated 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]
Maximum speed70 km/h (43 mph)[5]
Power supply600 kWh Lithium–titanate batteries[6]
Electric system(s)10 kV
Wheels drivenRubber wheels on a plastic core[7]
BogiesMulti-axle steering system,[6] Active suspension
Minimum turning radius15 m (49.2 ft)
Track gaugeN/A
  • 170-307 in 3 carriages[8]
  • 278-500 in 5 carriages
Max. distance at full charge40 km (25 miles) (standard model)[2]
80 km (50 miles) (UAE model)
Charging time
  • 30 sec for 3 to 5 km
    (1.9 to 3.1 miles):[9]
  • 10 min for 25 km
    (16 miles)[7]
Min. width of lane3.5 m (11.5 ft)[10]
Life expectancy25+ years for body structure

Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART) is a lidar (light detection and ranging) guided articulated bus system for urban passenger transport. Developed and manufactured by CRRC through CRRC Zhuzhou Institute Co Ltd, it was unveiled in Zhuzhou in the Hunan province on June 2, 2017.[2][3][11] ART is specifically referred to as a train or rapid transit by its manufacturer, however the public describes it as a bus. Its exterior is composed of individual fixed sections joined by articulated gangways, resembling a rubber-tyred tram.

The system is labelled as "autonomous" in English, however, the models in operation are optically guided and feature a driver on board.[12] Despite "rail" in the name, the system does not use rails.

Automated Rapid Transit systems (ARTs) can operate independently without the need for a guiding sensor and as a result, they fall under the classification of buses. Consequently, vehicles deployed on these routes are mandated to display license plates.


Before the announcement by CRRC, optical guided buses have been in use in a number of cities in Europe and North America, including in Rouen as part of Transport Est-Ouest Rouennais, in Las Vegas as a segment of Metropolitan Area Express BRT service (now discontinued), and in Castellón de la Plana as Line 1 in TRAM de Castellón network [es]. The guidance system technology used on these systems was called Visée under their original developer Matra, and is now named Optiguide after being acquired by Siemens.[13]


An ART vehicle with three carriages is approximately 30 m (98 ft 5 in) long.[6] It can travel at a speed of 70 km/h (43 mph) and can carry up to 300 passengers.[5] A five-carriage ART vehicle provides space for 500 passengers.[2][5] A four carriage model was introduced in 2021 which can carry 400 passengers.[14] Two vehicles can closely follow each other without being mechanically connected, similarly to multiple unit train control.[10] The entire ART has a low-floor design from a space frame with bolted-on panels to support the weight of passengers.[9] 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 was built through downtown Zhuzhou and inaugurated in 2018.[2]

Sensors and batteries

The ART is equipped with various optical and other types of sensors to allow the vehicle to automatically follow 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.[8][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 ART 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[9] and for a 25 km (16 mi) trip, 10 minutes.[15]

Benefits and limitations

A 2018 article by a sustainability academic argued trackless trams could replace both light-rail and bus rapid transit due to low cost, quick installation and low emissions.[16] Others have disputed the claims about cost and quick installations, and argued that ART is a proprietary technology with little deployment worldwide.[17][18] Other experts have argued the technology is overhyped, that optical guidance technology is not new, and that current proposals largely represent a repackaging of the bus as a rail-replacement technology.[19] As of 2022 there are no systems outside of China and few proposals. That may be because:

Proponents have argued the lack of rails means cheaper construction costs.[6] Multi-axle hydraulic steering technology and bogie-like wheel arrangement could allow lower swept path in turns, thus requiring less side clearance.[20] The minimum turning radius of 15 m (49 ft 3 in) is similar to buses.[citation needed]

Yibin ART Line T1

However, because the ART is a guided system, ruts and depressions could be worn into the road by the alignment of the large number of wheels, so reinforcement of the roadway to prevent those problems may be as disruptive as the installation of rails in a light rail system. Researchers in 2021 found evidence of significant road wear due to trackless tram vehicles, which undermined claims of quick construction, with the researchers finding significant road strengthening was required by the technology.[21] The suitability of the system for winter climates with ice and snow has not yet been proven. The higher rolling resistance of rubber tires requires more energy for propulsion than the steel wheels of a light rail vehicle.

A few abandoned proposals for light-rail lines have been revived as ART proposals because of the lower projected costs. However, a different report, by the Australian Railways Association, which supports light rail, said there were reliability questions with ART installations, implying the initial suggested capital cost savings were illusory.[22] A November 2020 proposal for a trackless tram system in the City of Wyndham, near Melbourne, posited a cost of $AU23.53M per km for roadworks, vehicles, recharge point and depots.[23] Recently completed light rail systems in Australia have had costs of between $AU80M and $AU150M per km.[24][25]

The Government of New South Wales 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 of the technology,[26] and that the development of "long articulated buses" was "too much in its preliminary phase" to meet the project deadlines. Instead, the plan was to build a light-rail line which would connect to another light-rail route already under construction, so passengers would not have to change vehicles.[27]

The Auckland Light Rail Group, in its studies of trackless trams for the City Centre to Mangere line, found that trackless trams would have a lower capacity than claimed. The official specifications for the ARRT assume a standing density of eight passengers per square meter, whereas many transit systems have more typical standing densities of four passengers per square meter. Based on that, the 32-metre (105 ft 0 in) long ARRT would more realistically have a capacity of 170 passengers, rather than the claimed 307.[28] This would be only a slight increase over the typical capacity of conventional bi-articulated buses at the same passenger density (~150 passengers), and less than a typical 33 m (108 ft 3 in) long LRV (~210-225 passengers).

List of commercially operating lines

List of commercial operation lines
Line System Locale Length Stations Opened
Line A1 Chinese: 智能轨道快运A1线 Zhuzhou ART[29] 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 [30]
Line T1 Chinese: 智轨T1线 Yibin ART[31] Yibin 17.7 km (11.0 mi)[1] 16 2019-12-05
Line 1 Chinese: 临港中运量1号线 Lingang DRT Shanghai 47.95 km (29.79 mi) 26 2021-06-30
Line 2 Chinese: 临港中运量2号线 2022-11-28
Line 3 Chinese: 临港中运量3号线 2023-07-05
Systems in trial operation
SRT Line 1 Yancheng SRT Yancheng 13 km (8.1 mi) 17[32][14] 2021-04-16
unknown Yongxiu ART[33] Yongxiu 5 km (3.1 mi)
(total planned 16 km (9.9 mi))
4[34] 2019-03-20[35]

Proposed systems

ART train is under testing and open to public for free rides in Putrajaya, Malaysia

Proposals, including vehicle testing, have been made in several countries.

See also


  1. ^ a b "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. Archived from the original on 2017-06-12. 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 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 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 Vocativ: This Train Runs On Virtual Tracks. China Central Television (CCTV), 6 June 2017. Downloaded on 22 July 2017.
  9. ^ a b c Quick charge! Supercapacitor tram unveiled in China. New China TV, 2 June 2017. Downloaded on 22 July 2017.
  10. ^ a b c Ken Huang: ART 宣传视频2017. 5 April 2017. Downloaded on 22 July 2017.
  11. ^ Spiegel TV.
  12. ^ Chamberlain, Lisa (2020-12-23). "Trackless trams may be the best alternative to light rail". City Monitor. Retrieved 2022-11-04.
  13. ^ "Debunking the myths around optically-guided bus (trackless trams)". The University of Sydney.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Track-less train : The transit system uses rubber wheels on a plastic core : Trains without track, 3 June 2017, retrieved 2022-11-04
  16. ^ "Why trackless trams are ready to replace light rail". The Conversation. 25 September 2018. Retrieved 6 February 2022.
  17. ^ "Are trackless trams really ready to replace light rail?". Public Transport Association of Canberra. 2021-11-14. Retrieved 2022-11-04.
  18. ^ Shepherd, April (2021-06-09). "ARA cautions against trackless trams, praises light rail". Infrastructure Magazine. Retrieved 2022-11-04.
  19. ^ Wong, Yale Z. (5 December 2018). "Looking past the hype about 'trackless trams'". The Conversation. Retrieved 2022-11-04.
  20. ^ "Looking past the hype about 'trackless trams'". The Conversation. 6 December 2018. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  21. ^ Reynolds, James; Pham, David; Currie, Graham (2021). "Do Trackless Trams need stronger roads? – the "weight" of evidence" (PDF). Australasian Transport Research Forum.
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  23. ^ "Developing a Transit Activated Corridor – the Wyndham Case Study" (PDF). Retrieved 20 July 2021.
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  25. ^ "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.
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  28. ^ "ALR trackless tram tech notes" (PDF). GreaterAuckland. Retrieved 21 February 2022.
  29. ^ The world's first ART demonstration line runs today!
  30. ^ "【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.
  31. ^ China’s New ART T1 Train Runs On Virtual Painted Tracks
  32. ^ "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.
  33. ^ a b "智轨被纳入行业团体标准晋升"国字号"". 18 July 2021. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  34. ^ "[China Bus] Virtual rail train Yongxiu Jiangxi China". YouTube. 13 June 2021. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  35. ^ "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.
  36. ^ "预计年运输乘客400万人次 智轨电车7月开跑". 28 May 2021. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  37. ^ "哈尔滨新区智轨1号线7座站台主体建设完工". 20 January 2021. Retrieved 2021-07-28.
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  39. ^ "长三角首列智轨列车苏州上路试跑,预计下半年正式载客". Finance Sina. 14 February 2021. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
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  41. ^ "Iskandar Malaysia Bus Rapid Transit (IMBRT)". Land Transport Guru. 7 April 2021. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  42. ^ "A Trip on the Mobilus ART during the IMBRT Pilot Testing Programme (4K 60fps HDR)". YouTube. 14 April 2021. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  43. ^ "Iskandar Malaysia transit bus can't tackle traffic, shelved". The Star. Retrieved 2024-05-27.
  44. ^ "Official: Johor preparing autonomous transit proposal for Putrajaya". Malay Mail. 7 May 2024. Retrieved 2024-05-07.
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  47. ^ Rozlan, Ikmal (7 August 2023). "ART Smart Tram Arrives In Sarawak, Students To Get Special Rates". Retrieved 26 August 2023.
  48. ^ "Nuevo León presenta tren eléctrico autónomo para Línea 5 del Metro con vía digital". Milenio. 29 October 2023. Retrieved 22 April 2024.
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