In the future, we won’t need drivers. Soon Hong Kong commuters will be experiencing a taste of this brave new world aboard the first China-made self-driving metro trains.
The 10 three-car trains will start running on the South Island Line when it opens on December 28th. The new MTR line promises to connect Admiralty with Hong Kong’s Southern District including Ocean Park for the first time.
The train was made in Qingdao by CRRC Qingdao Sifang, a company that specializes in high-speed trains. It was unveiled back in February. At that time it was announced that by the end of the year it would be operating beneath Beijing. While that didn’t end up happening in time, Hong Kong’s not a bad consolation prize.
Head technician Jiang Xin said that not only is the train safe it “can actually run more safely and effectively compared to trains controlled by humans.”
“These trains can not only help reduce operational failures caused by human error but also help avoid accidents caused by factors such as driver fatigue or sudden illness of staff,” he added back in February.
Which is exactly why these sort of trains have been introduced across the world, from Tokyo to Copenhagen, starting in the 1960s. There are even some “driverless” subway lines already operating in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, but a CRRC technician argues that these lines still require operators, plus the core technology for the trains was developed by foreign companies — unlike the homegrown driverless metro cars which will be introduced in Hong Kong next week.
China’s been on a bit of a driverelss kick recently with Baidu rolling out the country’s first self-driving car and a Zhengzhou company testing out the country’s first self-driving bus.
Which all seems like a good thing to us, in a country that leads the world in auto deaths, at more than 200,000 a year.
[Images via guancha.cn]