Alstom site in Tarbes with roof solar panels, source: Alstom

German research project on autonomous driving enters second phase

Alstom, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the TU Berlin are moving their research project “Automated regional trains in Lower Saxony, Germany” to the next phase, the partners recently announced.

Supported by Lower Saxony’s transport company LNVG and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK), the project aims to delve into the possibilities for autonomous driving in regional transport via ETCS. This will soon be tested as part of the second phase of the project, which will see two LNVG multiple units pre-equipped with ETCS gain new systems for driverless operation. The BMWK is supporting the installation 5,5 million euros in funds.

These systems were developed on phase one of the project and will now be used for testing automated driving under real conditions and in operation. The findings should set the stage for the eventual approval of automated trains for regional services. One one of the project’s pillars is to assess whether the existing regulatory framework for ATO is suitable for that or needs to be adapted.

“The scientific objectives include the optimisation of the remote-control operator’s workplace for railway applications and operational studies for mobile train control by the train attendant inside and outside the driver’s cab. Usability studies and technical feasibility are in the foreground”, Birgit Milius, head of the Department of Railway Operations and Infrastructure at the TU Berlin, said in comments on the project.

“The automation of railways, especially regional transport, offers a variety of opportunities. Falling operating costs make it easier for regional providers to enter the market or expand their services. Routes that have become unprofitable can be automated and operated profitably again”, Michael Kellner, parliamentary state secretary at the BMWK, added.

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This article first appeared on RailTech.be, our Belgian sister publication. 

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Author: Nick Augusteijn

Editor RailTech.com

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