Also known as virtual rail, autonomous rail helps trains enjoy smart operation on a virtual track through sensors.
June 2, 2017 witnessed the debut of an autonomous rail express transit system, the first of its kind in the world, independently developed by CRRC Zhuzhou Institute Co., Ltd. An integration of modern trams and buses, the system is considered cutting- edge public transportation and a viable solution for large and medium-sized cities.
Virtual rail tracking control technology developed by CRRC Zhuzhou Institute Co., Ltd. used in the autonomous rail express transit system precisely commands operations on the virtual track, with sensors detecting the posture and coordinates of the train. Compared to traditional means of transportation, it enjoys advantages in flexibility, safety, energy saving, transport capacity and cost.
An autonomous rail can adjust its own transport capacity with changes of passenger flow: It operates three carriages when expecting 300 passengers and five when expecting 500, thus cutting waste significantly.
The biggest cost saving arrives on initial investment, because no tracks are needed for the unmanned vehicle, which drives on virtual rails. This is very attractive considering the price tag of magnetic suspension used in subways and light rails. Today, in China, it costs some 400 to 700 million yuan to build a kilometer of metro, and 150 to 200 million yuan per kilometer of modern tram. For autonomous rails, however, for the same transport capacity, it would cost only a fifth of the cost of a tram by renovating existing roads.
Furthermore, the battery- powered engine is more efficient and environmentally-friendly: A 10-minute recharge of a lithiumtitanate battery enables 25 kilometers of operation.
A demonstration route is expected to open for commercial operation in 2018.
The train for the smart track express system is about 30 meters long and follows a virtual route guided by various sensors. It can even run without a pilot. IC