Obstacle detection systems for SBB Cargo shunting locomotives

obstacle detection systems

Knorr-Bremse and Israeli startup Rail Vision will equip several SBB Cargo shunting locomotives obstacle detection systems.

After successfully prototype testing is scheduled to be completed at the end of the first quarter of 2021, the companies will be looking into addressing additional business activities to adopt obstacle detection systems for cargo vehicles.

Rail Vision’s systems are based on electro-optic sensors, artificial intelligence and deep learning capabilities which are expected to make shunting processes of cargo vehicles more efficient.

Rail Vision’s shunting yard system uses innovative technology to detect and classify obstacles on and along rail tracks, providing both drivers and remote operators with critical real-time alerts. The system monitors switches and recognises signals and paths up to 200 meters ahead. Once an obstacle is detected, the system analyses and classifies it. When warning is needed, it sends both visual and acoustic alerts to the driver, and optionally also to the command and control centre.

Detecting obstacles and interfacing with the remote control from Schweizer Electronic, the prototype system can enable a single person to control shunting from a remote location.

Currently, the shunting activities are carried out by the locomotive driver and a signaler, who notifies of any possible obstacles and the remaining distance to other vehicles to the driver via radio from outside.

The innovation comes at a crucial time, as several operators are expecting staffing crunches in the medium term.

The assisted remote shunting system contributes to increasing operational efficiency with minimum staff.

“We are very happy to jointly enter the crucial testing phase of Rail Vision’s obstacle detection systems on SBB Cargo’s locomotives. These systems offer a promising avenue to further support operators in managing their fleets, and they are a building block in realizing the future scenario of automatic train operation,” Nicolas Lange, the Chairman of the Management Board of Knorr-Bremse Rail Vehicle Systems said.

Knorr-Bremse and Rail Vision are partners for the development of obstacle detection technology for rail vehicles. in 2019, Knorr-Bremse acquired 21.3% in the Israeli startup.

With its USD 10 million strategic investment, Knorr-Bremse is highly involved to support innovative systems for automated driving in the railway sector.


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