Autonomous Buses Allow for an Economic Alternative to Subways and Light Rail

Buses no longer have to be boring. CRRC Zhuzhou Institute Co. has recently developed autonomous and semi-autonomous buses. The Autonomous-rail Rapid Transit (ART) system is able to be implemented at a fraction of the cost that it takes to construct lines for a new subway or light rail. The ART system can run with a single car or have 2-5 cars linked, allowing for up to a maximum of ~500 passengers.

The bus follows a guided route via lines painted on the road. This allows for the bus to follow a predetermined route more easily. The bus is equipped with multiple sensors that enable the bus to be able to drive autonomously even without the assistance of the guided dotted lines. A driver can override the system and take an alternate route when the bus notifies the driver that there is a traffic jam ahead.

The bus utilizes data from sensors along the road as well as data from other buses in operation. Sensors give priority to the bus as it approaches red lights, giving the bus green lights along its path. Passengers will be able to get to their destination more quickly.

Another feature of the bus is that each car has a permanent magnetic motor. This provides a smoother ride compared to traditional buses and allows for the bus to have a tight turning radius which is critical in urban settings.

It is ideal to use a high-occupancy vehicle lane (HOV) or a bus rapid transit (BRT) lane when operating the ART system. With a maximum speed of 43 mph (70 kmh), these buses will be able to travel just as efficiently as subways cars but at a fraction of the cost that it takes to construct rail for subways or light rail.

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