Alstom, in partnership with Dutch infrastructure manager ProRail and Belgian rail freight operator Lineas demonstrated the highest grade of automation (GoA4) on a shunting locomotive near Breda, the Netherlands.
For the demonstration, a diesel-hydraulic shunting locomotive owned by Lineas was equipped with the Alstom ATO technology interfacing with an intelligent obstacle detection and recognition systems (ODS) developed by NIART by Elta. The locomotive, running autonomously, was presented with various obstacles – a person, a car, a rail wagon and an incorrectly-positioned switch – and reacted entirely autonomously and without the intervention of any active staff aboard. The ODS proved to be effective up to 500 meters away from obstacles in real-world conditions, providing a significant safety buffer in shunting yards.
NIART’s ODS is a perception system based on high resolution digital radar fused with multi-spectral electro-optics powered by classical and machine learning algorithms to detect and classify obstacles on the train route in all weather and visibility conditions. The system is a complete, self-contained on-board solution able to provide the ATO system with the information it needs to make autonomous driving decisions.
The demonstration concludes a series of tests that are part of an ongoing partnership between Alstom, ProRail and Lineas.
The objective of the demonstration was to showcase how the intelligent obstacle detection and recognition system (ODS) works seamlessly with Alstom’s Automatic Train Operation system (ATO) to allow the train to react autonomously to various obstacles.
This paves the way for the broader usage of autonomous driving into shunting operations, with the goal of increasing the capacity of freight operations, an example of advanced digital technologies driving cost-effective and sustainable mobility in the face of growing demand for freight and passenger services.