Two German companies Siemens and Deutsche Bahn Rail Operator (DB) presented on October 11, 2021 world’s first driverless, fully autonomous train in Hamburg, Germany. More efficient than the human driven one due to use of artificial intelligence (AI), which helps the train stay on schedule and meet increased travel demand. The train was developed thanks to a EUR 60 million modernization project run by DB called the Digital Rail Germany.
The trains are expected to transport up to 30% more passengers and significantly improve punctuality and in this way save more than 30% energy. “With the automated rail operations, we can offer our passengers a significantly expanded, more reliable and therefore improved service — without having to lay a single kilometer of new track” – stated Dr. Richard Lutz, CEO of DB in a press statement. The new train is the first that will run on existing rail infrastructure alongside regular human-driven trains. Currently several airports worldwide offer driverless mono-rail terminal shuttles and the city of Paris has driverless metro trains.
To ensure passenger safety, a human operator will be present at all times, though shunting maneuvers like turning train around, will be performed with no train-operator on board. Siemens claims plans are for digitalization of entire S-Bahn system in Hamburg by end of decade with simultaneous innovative train technology implementation for regional and mainline rail systems nationwide.
Carbon emissions from a mile of railway transport are lower with average 80% than those of road transport, which is the reason for train transportation boost in recent months and years as the cleanest and most reliable form of travel. While during the Covid-19 months sea and air cargo have experienced disruptions, freight rail transportation continued operations with relative efficiency.