Chongqing - Picture yourself in the driver's cabin with a "driver" who doesn't use their feet for the accelerator and brakes or their hands to steer the wheel. What's the experience like riding in such an autonomous bus?
Currently, the core area of Western (Chongqing) Science City has recently implemented four autonomous shuttle routes, operating with a fleet of 13 vehicles. These routes cater to the short-distance travel requirements of Jinfeng City Center, Chongqing College City, and Chongqing Science Valley Smart Valley Digital Innovation Park residents.
For example, Smart Travel Line 1, with seven stations, offers passengers real-time tracking through the WeChat mini-program - Qingzhou Travel. Inside the vehicle, a display screen provides live updates on progress, road conditions, and real-time adjustments like braking, yielding, and lane changes based on the current road conditions.
"This is backed by the integrated intelligent connected vehicle solution of vehicle-road-cloud," said Zhuo Xi, director of the Transportation Management Department of the Urban Construction Affairs Center of the Chongqing High-tech Zone.
The shuttles feature a range of sensors, including lidar, ultrasonic radar, and high-definition cameras—forming the vehicle's "eyes" to perceive the surrounding traffic conditions. Along the vehicle routes, roadside sensors and cameras collect diverse road condition data, including traffic signal status and timing.
This data is sent to the cloud control platform, serving as the vehicle's "brain." It calculates the optimal route, lane, and speed and aims for a continuous "green light" passage to minimize wait time at red lights.
As early as June 2021, Western (Chongqing) Science City began the autonomous shuttle bus demonstration, starting with one route and two vehicles. Expanding the demonstration, the core area has four autonomous shuttle routes with 13 operational vehicles.
Currently, citizen rides are complimentary—simply scan the QR code. The four routes operate with departures every 20-30 minutes during off-peak hours and every 15 minutes during morning and evening peak hours.
The vehicles have a speed limit of 40 kilometers per hour. In cases of severe weather conditions, such as heavy fog, relevant departments will determine whether to suspend vehicle operations based on actual conditions. Citizens can find related information through the mini-program.
To build a more complete industrial chain ecosystem, this year, the core area of the Western (Chongqing) Science City will add five more autonomous bus operating vehicles and open new routes on the existing basis, with relevant plans already in progress.
Meanwhile, the Urban Construction Affairs Center of the Chongqing High-tech Zone is also in talks with the bus group to incorporate these autonomous shuttle routes into the public transportation system, providing a better riding experience for citizens and improving the efficiency and safety of public transportation operations.
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