Hamburg S-Bahn train, source: Wikipedia

Deutsche Bahn to test HD mapping, creating railway Digital Twin

HERE Technologies is providing HD mapping technology for the Sensors4Rail project of Deutsche Bahn. In the pilot, DB will equip a Hamburg S-Bahn train with innovative sensors that locate the train and monitor surroundings, which can be localised on the HD map, which effectively creates a digital twin of the railway. 

An important component for the Sensors4Rail pilot project is an HD map, a digital map of high-definition quality. It enables the train to pinpoint itself precisely on the tracks, and recognise and classify obstacles by sensing and surveying its surroundings. These can be accurately localised on the HD map so that in the future, the train control centre can react even faster.

The sensors placed on the S-bahn vehicle for the pilot will allow the turnouts to automatically report to the maintenance staff for any impending fault that will happen. This allows for trains to operate one behind each other at a faster and consistent pace. Ultimately, this technology set-up will enable Deutsche Bahn to increase the capacity by keeping more trains running on the tracks simultaneously.

Digital twin

Based on proprietary LiDAR-based data provided by Deutsche Bahn, the HD map for the project is built on the HERE location platform. The data includes objects along the route, such as buildings, poles, or platform edges, which serve as a reference to detect changes in the environment.

In effect, the map becomes the digital twin of the railway and its immediate surroundings. Through its location platform, HERE provides Deutsche Bahn with a private development environment to independently manage its data. The data remain fully under the ownership and control of Deutsche Bahn.

Increase capacity

Dr. Kristian Weiland, Head of Program Digital Rail for Germany said, “At Deutsche Bahn, we are going to use the advantages of digital technologies to increase the capacity and quality of the railway system. The HERE HD map helps us to locate our trains more precisely. This way we can run more trains, at shorter intervals, on our existing infrastructure.”

“With our new private mapping offering, HERE’s location platform allows customers like Deutsche Bahn to create their own maps from proprietary sensor data, making use of the technical and operational mapmaking capabilities we have built and integrated into it,” said Jørgen Behrens, Chief Product Officer at HERE Technologies. “As HD mapping pioneers, it’s particularly good to see the concept of an HD map adding value in a different environment, beyond automated driving.”

Other project partners include Bosch, Ibeo and Siemens Mobility. They will present the results of the project at the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress in Hamburg from 11 to 15 October 2021, including live demonstrations of the test train.

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Author: Esther Geerts

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