All Aboard This Country’s First Driverless Train

Automated trains controlled by digital technology have arrived!

The world’s first driverless train arrives at Bergedorf Station in Hamburg.

(Courtesy Siemens Mobility)

A driverless train took its first trip around Hamburg, Germany in October, 2021 and will greatly enhance transportation in the city. Hailed as the world’s first, the train created by Siemens Mobility and Deutsche Bahn (DB) will officially begin service in December.

This is part of a large modernization project for the city’s S-Bhan urban rail, reported Euro News. There were no changes to the tracks, as the fully autonomous trains run on the same network as the current trains that have drivers operating them.

“Today we’re experiencing the true turn of an era: The railroad has arrived in the digital future and Digital Rail Germany has become a reality. With 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, “ said Dr. Richard Lutz, CEO of DB in a press release.

The new trains can transport up to 30 percent more passengers, make the trains operate on time, and will be more energy efficient. Germany wants to encourage train use for environmental protection reasons.

How do the Automated Trains Operate?
The trains receive signals via radios, according to the press release. There will be drivers present when there are passengers on board but they will only supervise the run and the passengers. Shunting, or turning the train around, is done without passengers or staff onboard.

“The new technology has already been officially approved and, since it features open interfaces, can immediately be used by operators worldwide for all types of trains,” said Dr. Roland Busch, CEO of Siemens.

There are now plans to digitize Hamburg’s S-Bahn system entirely by the end of the decade and there are already investments in new trains and for infrastructure improvements.

Automation is Already Being Used
While this is the first time a driverless train is sharing tracks with traditional vehicles, it’s not the first time automation is being used, according to Other cities like Paris have driverless metros, while airports around the world have automated monorails connecting terminals. But this is the first-time driverless trains are being operated on conventional tracks.

Autonomous transportation technology is being used in taxis by Waymo, which started as the Google self- driving project in 2009. Other companies that are working on driverless cars include Tesla, GM, Nissan, Zoox, and many more. These cars have to navigate roads, using GPS technology but driving on a track is much simpler and safer.

Hanover’s driverless trains are better for people and the planet. It’s time to get on board the new autonomous revolution.

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