A Beijing-based company announced Wednesday that its new intelligent metro system has received expert approval for commercial use.
Traffic Control Technology Co. Ltd said the vehicle to vehicle (V2V) Based Train Control System (VBTC) will be the newest driverless system for metros in China.
The system is based on each vehicle periodically exchanging its status information with other vehicles in operation.
The technology has been given approval, which means that the signal system is ready for commercial use in metros and railway lines, said Yang Guangwu, chief engineer of the Office with Beijing Major Projects Construction Headquarters, who led the approval panel.
Traffic Control Technology is a major contractor for metro signal systems in Chinese cities. The VBTC system is an upgrade from the current Communication-based Train Control System (CBTC), said Gao Chunhai, chairman of the board of the company.
Most driverless metro systems rely on information sent from track control equipment. "With the new system, metro trains will operate on image recognition and radar signal transmissions. This information is the eyes and ears of the vehicles. The vehicle itself is an intelligent body," he said.
Experts said the V2V system may fundamentally change the way metro transport is organized.
"Currently, metro lines run on fixed schedules. V2V signal systems facilitate congestion control. For example, they allow trains to depart more frequently when there is a large number of passengers," said Wang Bo, deputy director of Beijing Transportation Information Center. "In the future, the process of decision-making in metro system will be highly intelligent and dynamic."
In China, the shortest interval between metro trains is one minute and 43 seconds on Line Four, one of the busiest lines in Beijing.
Using the V2V system, the minimum interval is 80 seconds.
"Compared with CBTC, the VBTC system could raise passenger transport capacity by 15 percent," said Yang.
The system uses precision electronic components and has undergone thorough testing, according to test engineer Leng Wenjun.
China's fast-growing metro systems have spawned the birth of new technology. By mid-2017, 31 cities in China have metro systems, totalling 3,965 kilometers, according to China Urban Metro Transport Association. By the end of 2020, this is expected to reach 6,000 kilometers.
The 16.6-km Yanfang Line is China's first fully domestically developed automated subway. It links the areas of Yanhua and Fangshan in Beijing's southwest suburbs. The line's trains are designed to run at a maximum of 80 kilometers per hour.
Beijing has 22 metro rail lines spanning 608 km.