Thales, Invision AI, a Toronto-based technology start-up and Metrolinx, the regional transport agency for the Province of Ontario, agreed to develop autonomous technology for rail transport and have installed a prototype system on a train.
The system, tested within a six-month period, was deployed on a Metrolinx GO train operating on multiple lines in Toronto. The system is equipped on the front of the train and includes radars, cameras and lidar, for multi–spectral sensing ahead of the train, along with a cyber secured 4G/LTE connected data collection and processing system. These technologies actively collect important data which can then be used to train the system to recognise obstacles and other dangers. The data gathering activities will continue for an additional six months in different weather and environmental conditions.
In addition, the technology equipped on the train is providing real-time information and data such as next generation positioning, train telemetry, and diagnostics information, to ensure the system is running smoothly.
“No matter what the weather is, safety within Ontario’s transit networks remains our top priority. This partnership between Metrolinx, Thales and Invision AI shows the potential benefit emerging technologies could have on the future of transit in our province. We remain committed to keeping transit operators and passengers moving safely and with fewer delays year-round,” Caroline Mulroney, Ontario Minister of Transport said.
The project to develop autonomous technologies will shape the future of transit systems with support from the Ontario government, through Avin’s WinterTech development programme, and led by the Ontario Centre of Innovation. WinterTech supports small and medium-sized enterprises and their partners by commercialising winter-ready innovative mobility solutions.
CAD 1.47 million (USD 1.17 million) is the total value of the project, of which, through Avin, the Government of Ontario has a contribution of CAD 483,600 (USD 384,189) while the partners contribute with an investment of CAD 999,760 (USD 788,683).
Invision AI, Thales and Metrolinx are building unique sensing and computing capabilities that provide enhanced situational awareness to existing rail systems and are capable of operating in severe winter conditions. The goal of this partnership is to build a platform that will ultimately enable deployments in urban, regional and mainline rail networks globally.
For operators, the benefits of this autonomous technology include enhanced safety, rapid installation time due to the minimal equipment footprint, enhanced ‘look ahead’ sensing to detect and track potential obstacles, and accurate real-time data collection crucial for maintenance and operations teams.
For passengers, this will contribute to fewer delays, improved safety and enhanced reliability of the network.