IMTS is a new transit system based on the latest ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) technology that allows the unmanned, automatic and platoon operation (in which multiple units run in file formation at unified speeds) of buses on dedicated roads, as well as manual and independent operation on ordinary roads. The system features the punctuality, high speed and large passenger capacity of conventional rail-based mass transit systems such as trains and the economic efficiency and flexibility of buses serving regular routes.

IMTS (Intelligent Multimode Transit System)


The next-generation transportation system IMTS features the following advantages:

  • Adjustable capacity: As the units in platoon operation (file formation at uniform speeds) are not mechanically linked, it is easy to increase or decrease their number, depending on fluctuations in demand.
  • High speed and punctuality: Vehicles running in platoons on dedicated roads achieve speed and punctuality suitable for an advanced transit system.
  • Excellent multiple-modality: Dual mode operation (in a platoon on dedicated roads and as independent units on ordinary roads) allows smooth, limited-transfer travel.
  • Route setting flexibility: The combined use of dedicated roads and ordinary roads can be flexibly arranged, and this, together with a far-smaller turning radius and the ability to ascend much sharper inclines than is possible with trains, allows flexibility in setting routes.
  • High economic efficiency: The absence of need for rails and power transformers (which are necessary in conventional rail-based systems), along with the system's compact control system and compact vehicle terminals, etc., contributes to construction and maintenance cost efficiency. Unmanned operation on dedicated roads also reduces labor and related costs.

Technical features

An artist's rendering of IMTS in platoon operation at EXPO 2005 Aichi, Japan

IMTS vehicles are navigated and controlled by magnetic markers imbedded in the middle of their dedicated roads. A thorough fail-safe system is adopted, featuring automatic speed regulation and braking functions assured by inter-vehicle communication, ground signals and other means.

  • Course-keeping function: Magnetic markers imbedded in the middle of the dedicated roads ensure automatic navigation and control.
  • Platoon running function: Three electronically linked vehicles run in file formation at uniform speeds.
  • Speed-keeping function: Stops at stations, departures and traveling speed are automatically regulated in line with the operation timetable.
  • Fixed-point stop function: Each vehicle in a platoon is controlled to stop exactly at set points along the station platform.
  • Anti-collision function: Inter-vehicle communication, ground signals and other means allow automatic brake control.

At EXPO 2005 Aichi, Japan

At EXPO 2005 Aichi, Japan, IMTS will have the following characteristics:

  • Leading design: Each unit will feature a “Z-CAPSULE” design that gently embraces passengers, projecting an image for a new form of public mobility. Its round and gentle glass cabin, with its esthetically pleasing lines, provides the occupants with a panoramic view
  • Dual-mode operation: Operation will feature both unmanned automatic operation on a dedicated road and manned manual operation on on-site ordinary roads.
  • 3-vehicle platoons, automatic platoon-size adjustment: On the dedicated road, three units will run in a platoon; the last unit will automatically separate to travel on an ordinary road when needed and will then automatically rejoin the formation when it returns to the dedicated road.
  • Barrier-free consideration: Units will feature low floors and will stop at station platforms at a point in which floor height is equal to platform height.
  • Environmental friendliness: Units will feature clean CNG (compressed natural gas) engines.

Planned operation is as follows:

  • Period: March 25 - Sept. 25, 2003 (185 days)
  • Hours: 9 a.m. - 10 p.m. (tentative)
  • Service areas:
    Automatic operation zone - on an IMTS dedicated road connecting the North Gate Station, West Gate Station and South Big Event Hall Station for a total one-way distance of about 1.6 km
    Manual operation zone - on an on-site ordinary road connecting the West Gate Station and the Conventional Hall Bus Stop for a total distance of about 0.8 km
  • Number of units: 14
  • Traveling speed: About 30 km/h maximum and about 20 km/h on average
  • Terminal-to-terminal traveling time: About 7 minutes (for automatic operation)
  • Departure intervals:
    Automatic operation zone-every 7.5 minutes (8 departures/hour)
    Manual operation zone-every 30 minutes (2 departures/hour)
  • Expected passenger volume (rough estimate):
    Automatic operation zone-27,000 passengers/day (round trip)
    Manual operation zone-2,400 passengers/day (round trip)

Transportation Within the Site