China Testing Trackless Autonomous Train

It’s been a year of firsts for the railway system — from going solar to launching its fastest model. Pushing its limits even further, China is test-driving its Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit system, which is fully electric and trackless.

ART bears the physical appearance of a train but it doesn’t rely on following a track. Instead, it follows a virtual route using an electric powertrain and tires. It’s expected to function much like an urban train or a tram, but since there’s no investment cost in laying down rails, it should be much cheaper to implement.

The train can only travel 15 kilometers at a time, but can fully recharge in just 10 minutes. Environmentalists will likely tip their hats off to the new system — it’s entirely emissions free! Smoggy China could surely use more sustainable public transport alternatives. Thankfully, its government has been taking other measures to ensure that its locals don’t further experience pollution-caused health issues.

40 percent of China’s factories have been shut down, and authorities are reportedly working on a timetable to end the sale of gas- and diesel-powered cars.

A round of applause for China — sounds fresh!

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Dubai Is Test-Flying A Two-Seater Taxi Drone

Since Margot Krasojevic’s conceptualization of the dragonfly bridge, it was only about time that flying vehicles came to light. Dubai is fast-tracking this reality, test-flying a two-seater taxi drone that transports passengers autonomously.

The [Autonomous Air Taxi] is environmentally friendly, powered by electricity, and the prototype version has a maximum flight time of 30 minutes, at a cruising speed of 50 km/h (31 mph), and a maximum airspeed of 100 km/h (62 mph).

As it would, the notion of a crew-less flying taxi may be somewhat petrifying. However, the AAT comes with emergency parachutes and batteries, so you can rest — or fly — easy. Developers also plan to create an accompanying booking app, much like Uber, but for the skies.

“Encouraging innovation and adopting the latest technologies contribute not only to the country’s development but also build bridges into the future,” Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed said in a statement.

Dubai hopes that by 2030, 25% of transportation methods will be autonomous. With many organizations working towards a more efficient traveling system, there is much to look forward to in the future.

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Toyota To Introduce Autonomous Service Vehicle

As self-driving delivery vans hit the streets of England, Toyota is brewing up its own unique prototype. With no itinerary, the popular automaker has all the time in the world to be ambitious. (Maybe even a little over-the-top!) Over the weekend, the vehicle manufacturer announced the “e-Palette”, an autonomous vehicle that does… well, whatever you want it to do.

[Toyota] describes them as “fully-automated, next generation battery electric vehicle[s] designed to be scalable and customizable for a range of Mobility as a Service businesses.”

Essentially, the buggy is a self-driving cargo van that grows (or shrinks) depending on what it’s carrying. There’s no word on a launch date, or whether Toyota will actually build its formidable e-Palette. Still, makers are fixated on the idea — to suit millennials in particular.

“Just think how good e-Palette would be at Burning man,” quipped Akio Toyoda, Toyota Motor Company’s bespectacled president.

Whatever Toyota has up its sleeve next, it’s good to know that future technologies will match its ambition.

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Drive GM’s Autonomous Car Without A Pedal

In view of the escalating rate of vehicular accidents, tech societies are turning to wearable devices for sleepy drivers. Despite the success of products such as Steer, drunk driving remains to be a pressing predicament. Keeping reckless drivers off the road may be difficult, but not if General Motors has its foot in the door. The automobile manufacturer is mass producing a self-driving car without manual controls.

It’ll be possible for humans to stop the car – GM says customers having an emergency “may end the ride by making a stop request, and the vehicle will pull to the side of the road at the next available safe place.”

As with any drastic change, motor aficionados are voicing concerns regarding safety laws. Testing prototypes in San Francisco, GM is confident in its sleek, new model. The Cruise AV may be unique, but it isn’t the first of its kind.

“Mercedes-Benz will make an electric or hybrid version of all its cars by 2022, and they’re not alone. Volvo will go all electric by next year. Ford has plans for an electric F-150 truck and an electric Mustang.”

It’s a lot of competition to face, but hopefully safety remains a priority.

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