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Social Innovation

Fashionably on time in Milan

Have you heard? Driverless metros are ‘in’ as the new way of transporting people from A to B in cities.

City streets are becoming more and more congested.

At the same time, urban air quality is dangerously threatened by increasing levels of pollution.

Urban populations are set to keep booming, exacerbating these two issues. The widespread deployment of new technologies, such as electric and autonomous vehicles, are set to tackle these challenges, reducing the pressure on roads and our environmental footprint. However, improving public transport is also vital to help people move around cities more quickly, efficiently and sustainably.

Urban mobility is a particular issue in Milan, where it is estimated that people can lose up to 25 minutes a day as a result of transport-related issues. Enter the driverless metro! Ansaldo STS and Hitachi Rail Italy’s driverless metro for the new M5 line will help people to zip around Milan more quickly and efficiently – for example, it will be possible to transport between 15,000 and 18,000 people per hour, per direction! In fact, it’s so good it’s predicted that the new M5 line will lead to 15 million annual users shifting from private cars to the metro, resulting in significantly lower carbon emissions.

The driverless metro has several advantages over its conventional cousin.


Shorter headways – the measurement of the distance or time between vehicles in a transit system – created by smart technology means trains can run much more frequently. Added to this, the system can drive the frequency of trains in accordance with the demands of daily traffic, adding more trips during rush hour and reducing them during quieter periods.

Remove human error

The removal of human error from the system increases safety and, with less human error in the operation of the metro, increases fuel efficiency.


Reduction in operational costs by up to 40% means lower transport costs for the public.