In Brief
A new train that operates autonomously is expected to begin serving a Chinese city next year. The train follows a pre-set route laid out by white dots on the road. The technology provides small and medium-sized cities with a cheaper public transport

The state of public transportation has arrived at an exciting juncture. It seems that technologies have finally advanced to the point that truly never before seen solutions are starting to pop up all around the world. We’re seeing the likes of autonomous taxis, flying taxis, and high-speed trains like the “mag-lev limo” concept, which promises to deliver travelers from New York to Beijing in 2 hours’ time.

Another option is readying itself to transport people around the Chinese city of Zhuzhou as soon as 2018. The “smart bus” is being developed by Chinese rail transit firm CRRC to combine the economical ease of bus systems with the modularity of subway trains, as well as the convenience and safety of autonomy.

The smart bus, or Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART), will follow a preset path guided by white dots lining the roads picked up by sensors in the trains. ART is an excellent option for smaller to medium sized cities who cannot afford to invest in the infrastructure necessary to have a subway system.

The three-car trains will be able to hold 300 people along its 6.5 km (4 mile) track. More carriages could be added to allow for a greater numbers of passengers.

This project seems like a stepping stone solution between our current transportation systems and the forthcoming high(er)-tech possibilities.