Like in the case of road vehicles, two of the main missions of rail cars, is the transport of people and cargo but on a much larger scale. Different to road vehicles, rail cars operate in a much more controlled and limited environment, free from factors to which other vehicles are exposed. Since they make their routes on determined tracks, the risk of accidents is much lower, and their trajectories are much more predictable. This is one of the reasons why this means of transport is the one that has advanced the most in matters of autonomy. Especially subway Systems present already an important number of fully autonomous processes and some of the benefits are more than noticeable:
Higher regularity: Automated trains can work with a higher regularity and that translates into improved punctuality. In the area of operations, this would mean fewer delays and in case delays are presented they would be resolved more quickly.
Cost reduction: Costs would be drastically reduced due to the lack of need for staff.
Development potential and challenges
Thanks to the immense and continuous advances in the area of rail vehicles automation, especially in regards to underground systems and to the proven advantages that it brings with it, like higher train frequency and cost reductions, it is possible and desirable to migrate existing technologies to other railway ecosystems. However, there are challenges to solve due to the present heterogeneity in the systems and infrastructures. We work on solutions from the following R&D fields.