Rail Vision has been commissioned to fit passenger trains run by Israel Railways with electro-optical sensor systems, a driver assistance technology which enables trains to detect objects and obstacles over long distances, and represents an important building block in the development of automated train operation (ATO).
The Israeli company, in which Knorr-Bremse holds a 33% stake, will supply the operator with ten systems by the end of 2023.
“For Rail Vision, this first commercial order is a milestone in successfully bringing its high-tech products to market. The firm’s performant, highly reliable driver assistance technology has the potential to further enhance safety on railroads and help to make rail operations even more efficient, dependable and stable. All in all, it represents a key step in the creation of smart, automated rail operations for the future,” Nicolas Lange, Chairman of the Management Board of Knorr-Bremse Rail Vehicle Systems said.
Rail Vision systems are based on the smart interplay of sensor technology with artificial intelligence and deep learning. Because the technology was developed specifically for rail transport, it can provide train drivers and operators with very effective support in a variety of operating scenarios.
The systems are capable of recognising potential obstacles such as people, animals, oncoming trains and incorrectly set switches over distances of up to 2 km, even in poor weather or lighting conditions, and of alerting train drivers accordingly. Because they can also identify infrastructure, signals and vegetation along the track, they can provide rail operators with valuable information on the condition of the line, making it easier to plan maintenance work, for example.
To bring its sensor systems to market, Rail Vision’s step-by-step development process included numerous pilot and test projects in different parts of the world, such as Israel, Australia, the USA and various German-speaking countries. High-tech systems for environment observation, object detection and driver assistance are regarded as crucial elements in the development of automated train operation (ATO). This involves digitizing many processes and subprocesses that are currently still manual, to make them faster, safer and more efficient. In this regard, the intelligent networking of these systems with train braking systems is a key development objective which Knorr-Bremse and Rail Vision are pursuing together. Where necessary, the technology will also help to offset staff shortages in the rail sector.