Most locals are familiar with the transportation Light Rail Transit (LRT). It helps passengers to get from one place to their designated location. The southern state of Malaysia, Johor is currently in the works of introducing a larger and better version of the LRT. A new transportation called Autonomous Rapid Transit (ART) will soon run on roads in Malaysia – not elevated rails. ART is currently being tested in Iskandar, Johor where it aims to cover a network spanning 2,000 kilometers.
The trial has begun this year after being postponed when the pandemic hit in 2020, additionally, the ART bus pilot testing programme will also include 7 other bus manufacturers. Since receiving the green light in 2016, the managing director of Ireka, Datuk Lai Voon Hon said that this will be one of the test lines for the large Iskandar Malaysia Bus Rapid Transit (IMBRT) project. Sensors on the buses can monitor “virtual rails” on the route, allowing them to navigate autonomously.
The ART is a medium-scale transit system for urban passenger transportation that allows for a higher passenger capacity at a lower cost of implementation as compared to light-rail systems, and it will operate on renewable energy sources like electricity or hydrogen. A little backstory, these vehicles are manufactured by the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) with a power charge for 10 minutes on the vehicles’ batteries that can shoot up to 24 kilometers. The ART consists of up to 5 carriages that are equipped with sensors that identify virtual tracks on the ground, allowing them to navigate their own route autonomously through the road network at speeds of up to 70 km/h, but a driver will be in operation for added protection and safety.
These vehicles will have a passenger capacity of more than 300 people for 3 carriages. This can be expanded to hold up to 500 passengers for 5 carriages. The introduction of the ART pilot project will be a vital step in improving public transportation in Iskandar, Johor, as well as promoting the region’s economic and social growth.
These driverless busses are for inter-city travelling, which includes Desa Jaya and Medini. The IMBRT appears to be a cost-effective way to travel across Malaysia in the future. It will also operate on a large network by using renewable energy. Malaysia is on track to become the first country in Southeast Asia to implement a fully automated driverless bus transportation system which will be launched in Iskandar, Johor soon.