(October 18, 2022, Frankfurt a. M.) Autonomous driving means of transport are still dreams of the future in many areas. Because when it comes to getting around, people have a great need for safety and are sceptical because they often lack confidence in artificial intelligence – as important components for autonomous driving. On the other hand, automation and digitalisation of the transport sector offer great opportunities. Together with various other partners from science and industry, DKE is involved in the safe.trAIn project, which is pursuing the long-term goal of using driverless trains in regional transport as well.
There are already a few examples of completely autonomous trains. For instance, skytrains are in use at airports, in Germany subways in Nürnberg have been running completely automatical since 2008, and in Australia there is the world's first automatic heavy-load rail network – where driverless trains transport products from iron mines hundreds of kilometres across the country. But Marko Kesic, Mobility Project Manager at VDE, admits: "The more complex the traffic, the more difficult it is to run trains without a driver. Regional trains travel on open tracks where animals could obstruct traffic or people could be on the tracks during maintenance work. The most complicated use of autonomous trains would be in urban traffic, such as trams."
Increasing cost efficiency and energy efficiency
Driverless trains offer great advantages for rail transport in particular. After all, the German government has set itself the goal of reducing CO2 emissions in the transport sector by more than 40 per cent by 2030 (compared to 2021). Building additional lines and laying tracks is expensive and takes a long time. In automated operation, on the other hand, efficiency and attractiveness can be increased in the short term, trains could run more frequently and more connections could be offered. DKE is contributing its experience with specifications and standards to the safe.trAIn project, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. The DKE experts want to derive test methods that can be used to determine whether an artificial intelligence is trustworthy.