Toyota has revealed an unmanned, automatic transport vehicle system that will ferry an estimated 3.6 million visitors at the 2005 World Expo site in Japan.

The futuristic IMTS (Intelligent Multimode Transit System) was first displayed publicly at the last Tokyo Motor Show.

Part of the World Expo site is located in Toyota Motor Corporation's home of Toyota City in Aichi.

A fleet of 13 IMTS units will operate every day throughout the six months of 2005 World Expo, from March 25 to September 25.

An estimated 19,900 people will use the IMTS vehicles each day to move around the massive Expo site, which covers 173 hectares (about 430 acres).

IMTS is a new transit system based on the latest ITS (Intelligent Transport System) technology that allows the unmanned, automatic and platoon operation, in which multiple units run in file formation at unified speeds.

A dedicated one mile (1.6 kilometre) road designed for automatic operation will link three stations on the Aichi site. Magnetic markers are embedded in the road to enable the automatic navigation and control, including an anti-collision function.

IMTS vehicles will run automatically in platoons of up to three vehicles - depending on demand at any time - that will be electronically linked.

They will operate at speeds of up to 20mph (30 km/h).

In keeping with Toyota's Expo theme, "Mobility in Harmony with the Planet", the IMTS vehicles will use clean CNG (compressed natural gas) engines.

The IMTS system does not require rails or power transformers like rail-based systems. This makes IMTS cheaper to build and maintain, as does its compact control system, compact terminals and reduced labour costs for the unmanned operation.