As self-driving cars continue to struggle their way onto roads, Germany's focus is shifting elsewhere. In an effort to improve public transport efficiency, fully automated self-driving trains are coming to the country.
Germany unveils world’s first self-driving trains
Reported by TechXplore, rail operator Deutsche Bahn is partnering with Siemens to introduce self-driving trains to Germany. The two companies claim that the futuristic railway will help to decrease train delays and reduce energy consumption.
Germany will introduce the new trains with four vehicles situated on Hamburg’s S-Bahn rapid urban rail network. Starting in December, these vehicles will take passengers around the city without human assistance.
Deutsche Bahn explains that this is the first step in a €60 million plan to revitalise a stale transport industry. By using existing tracks instead of specially designed rails, the vehicles are able to be introduced without disrupting existing lines.
Siemens CEO Roland Busch explained:
“We are making rail transport more intelligent,” said Siemens CEO Roland Busch, estimating that automated trains can transport “up to 30 percent more passengers, significantly improve punctuality and save more than 30 percent energy”.
Not exactly new technology
Fully automated self-driving trains are not exactly new. For example, France’s detailed Metro system relies on self-driving carriages already. Furthermore, London’s DLR trains from the late 80s are automated systems still in use today.
However, both the Metro and the DLR use lines purpose built for their automated systems. In comparison, Hamburg’s existing lines will be compatible with new trains. Drivers will still be in attendance, but only to supervise.
These trains are designed to improve the efficiency of already existing railways. Furthermore, the requirement of trained drivers being present for safety doesn't cut out jobs in an automated future. But how will the public react?