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Autonomous Tram in Depot (AStriD), source: Siemens Mobility

Germany will test first autonomous tram in automated depot

Six German companies and institutions led by Siemens Mobility will provide the joint research project. It is devoted to exploring the options for the autonomous tram in a fully automated tram depot. The study is funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) within the “Modernity Fund” (mFUND) research initiative focused on digital solutions.

The joint research project is called “AStriD” and abbreviated from the German phrase “Autonome Straßenbahn im Depot” (Autonomous Tram in Depot). It will be inaugurated in October and will run for three years. Besides Siemens Mobility, five other companies will participate in the project: Verkehrsbetrieb Potsdam (ViP), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility (IKEM), Codewerk and Mapillary.

“AStriD is the next big milestone on the way to autonomous trams. By automating time-consuming shunting operations in the depot, we want to better support our customers in ensuring sustainable value creation over the entire lifecycle as well as guaranteeing availability,” said Sabrina Soussan, CEO of Siemens Mobility.

Automated depot

To perform the research, a fully automated tram depot will be developed. It will be based on the facility of Verkehrsbetrieb Potsdam, a public transport operator in Potsdam located close to Berlin. “Depot automation is to be made commercially viable over the medium term as the first stage of autonomous tram driving. From its onset, the development project will consider the legal framework conditions necessary for the approval and operation of autonomous trams and the economic framework needed for operations,” Siemens Mobility stated. Therefore, the experiments and study will be carried out in the automated depot with the participation of an autonomous tram. During the tests, the self-driving tram will be examined at performing various service operations such as running through a washing bay onto a siding.

Different roles

Within the project, all the participants will have different roles. Thus, Siemens Mobility GmbH will develop the autonomous tram in the depot. The latter will be provided by Verkehrsbetrieb Potsdam together with access to required data, systems and facilities, and evaluate the results from the point of view of a depot operator. The Institute for Information Processing Technology (ITIV) at KIT is contributing its expertise in the specification and digitalization of depots, the automation of processes, and the identification of necessary data.

Codewerk and Mapillary will be responsible for the digital aspects of the project. The first company will handle the cloud and edge components for integrating the data of all systems while the second one will provide the project with a cloud-based online platform for the collaborative collection and provision of street images and relevant information. IKEM will analyse and assess legal and economic issues in the project.

Are you interested in the Automatic Train Operation? It will be one of the key themes to discuss at the Intelligent Rail Summit 2019 that will take place on 19-21 November in Paris, France. To know more about the event, follow the link.

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Author: Mykola Zasiadko

Mykola Zasiadko is editor of online trade magazines RailTech.com and RailFreight.com.

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