Automate train driver functions is tested in France. France’s Institute of Technological Research (IRT) SystemX, together with French National Railways (SNCF) and Alstom, has launched the two-year test project.

The project to test the use of technology to automate train driver functions of observation. The project will aim to automate functions such as distinguishing between lineside signs and signals, spotting passengers on a station platform, monitoring defects on passing trains, and recognising objects on the track. The objective is to carry out these functions to very high levels of safety. Project will also work with Compiègne Technical University (UTC) to draw on its expertise.

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Drawing on the scientific expertise of the Université, the project aims to combine radar, lidar, cameras and other sensors with artificial intelligence. The automate functions also includes identifying signals, noticing a passenger on a platform, monitoring defects on a passing train and spotting objects on the track.

Project will provide proof of concept through laboratory modelling which will test the choice of sensors used. The project will  carry out virtual validation using an iterative approach. This will be followed by tests on an SNCF locomotive which will be conducted between Villeneuve Saint-Georges and Monterau.

“At SystemX, our teams have recognised expertise in the field of artificial intelligence and methodologies for the processing of images applied to transport, as well as expertise in virtualisation and simulation to validate and certify the security of these types of systems,” says Mr Eric Perrin-Pelletier, managing director of SystemX. “Our agility and speed of execution will enable us to produce an automaton in less than 18 months, then carry out its functional demonstration on site within 24 months at most.”

Mr Pierre Izard, SNCF’s chief technology and rail systems officer, says the project will enable SNCF to prepare for the “train of the future.”

IRT SystemX was launched in February 2012 as part of the French government’s Investment for the Future programme to support innovation in France.

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