Driver Assist / Automated Driving Systems.
Getting a 5,000-tonne freight train back up to speed after a deceleration phase calls for an immense amount of energy. But there are ways to avoid this waste of energy, cut the associated costs, reduce the environmental impact and minimize wear.
Knorr-Bremse was one of the first companies to develop a partly automated driving system, beginning its work in this area as long ago as 1996. The LEADER® (Locomotive Engineer Assist Display & Event Recorder) system was developed for global heavy freight operation. Its original focus was on the safe operation of heavy freight trains with reduced dynamic forces, which also enabled a significant reduction in fuel consumption.
In order to address the specific requirements of European rail operators, Knorr-Bremse subsequently developed a Driver Advisory System (DAS), an application aimed at lighter freight trains and passenger trains. The DAS application takes account of timetables, topography and, where available, information about the current traffic situation, to offer operators, infrastructure providers and traction current suppliers valuable driving assistance in enabling energy-efficient rail transportation. DAS uses information about the configuration of the train, as well as the route, timetable, current speed and position as determined by GPS to calculate the most efficient driving style. The integration of live local traffic data, ideally supplied by the control rooms via an interface, is becoming increasingly important in this context. DAS currently runs on a panel PC in the driver’s cab. On an ergonomically optimized display, the driver is shown the most efficient driving profile at that point in time. The driver then decides whether or not to follow this recommendation based on the current situation.
The next step will involve the development of a direct vehicle interface and hardware-independent (e.g. tablet-based) product versions. This is particularly important for integration with the architecture of increasingly automated train operation.
Basis for Automatic Train Operation (ATO)
Driving profile optimization algorithms that take account of vehicle specifications, timetables, topography and live local traffic data form an important part of the architecture of Automatic Train Operation (ATO) applications. Similar optimization algorithms already form the basis of today’s automated driving systems. LEADER® Auto Pilot, is already being used in the world’s first ATO application for freight train operations, providing advanced driving strategies and precision train handling control.
In Australia, LEADER® forms part of a system that allows freight trains to operate entirely in unattended driverless mode. Fully automated driving systems like Auto Pilot will be combined with obstacle detection functionality within an independent system and with collision avoidance technology to provide further enhancements to ATO applications.
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