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200kph driverless maglevs coming to China by early 2020

200kph without a driver *gulp*

Photograph: John Applese via Unsplash
No matter how many times you've been on it, a trip on the maglev train to Pudong Airport always sparks a sense of wonder. While you don't fully know how it works (a visit to Shanghai Maglev Museum will sort that out) and you're never sure how safe it is due to the incredibly high speeds and you know, the magnets, you're very aware this is the forefront of locomotive technology. However, would you still ride it if there wasn't a driver?

According to CNN Travel, China is set to debut a new generation of driverless maglev trains by early 2020. Capable of reaching speeds of 200kph, they'll only be medium-low speed in comparison with Shanghai's airport maglev (431kph), but 200kph is pretty damn fast for something without a driver.

The 2.0 version of the technology, currently being tested in Hunan's capital city, Changsha, can reach 160kph, according to CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive Co., but the proposed 3.0 version is 40kph faster and doesn't require manual operation.

The word is the 3.0 model will also boast higher acceleration speeds and 'improved climbing abilities'. It will also have a more 'powerful brain', allowing for a more developed, and safer autopilot, reports Xinhua. Following testing, the trains are expected for city-to-city transits of 50-200km.


So, while Shanghai's record for fastest Maglev isn't under threat just yet – Japan's 500kph Chuo Shinkansen is still a fair way off – it seems that maglev train technology, at least here in Asia, is going to keep developing and may fast become the norm.

However, we're still sweating the arrival of the ridiculous half an hour 1,000kph+ Shanghai to Beijing hyper fast train of doom...

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