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Siemens Mobility Demonstrates the Worlds First Fully Autonomous Tram

“By making trains and infrastructure intelligent, we can guarantee availability and enhance safety in local and long-distance travel.”

By CBR Staff Writer

Siemens’ mobility division has undertaken a public demonstration of the world’s first autonomous tram in Potsdam Germany.

Over a six-kilometre track on the tram network in Potsdam, Siemens Mobility demonstrated the autonomous capabilities of its tram assistant AI.

A repurposed Combino tram vehicle was made available by Potsdam’s transportation company Verkehrsbetrieb Potsdam for the demo.

The experimental vehicle was outfitted with camera sensor that ran around the front, back and sides of the vehicle. These cameras acted as the main source of informational input into the tram assistant program that captured and processed the tram data and its movement through the traffic environment in real-time.

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Lidar and Radar technology also complement the camera system fitted onto the tram.

The AI component of the system consists of a set of complex algorithms that continually evaluate the data input from the Lidar and camera sensors to build operating situational awareness that helps it judge the appropriate response in a given situation. This AI can also read and react to tram signals and crossing vehicles and pedestrians.

The company has form in train and tram world-firsts: At the 1879 Berlin Trade Fair, Werner von Siemens presented the first electric locomotive in the world.

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Siemens Mobility

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Sabrina Soussan CEO of Siemens Mobility said in a statement that:  “Our autonomous tram can already master essential operating tasks in real road traffic at this stage of development. By relying on the “Siemens Tram Assistant” collision warning system being used in, among other places, our Avenio M tram operating in Ulm, Germany, we have already reached series maturity – an important milestone on the way to autonomous driving.”

“By making trains and infrastructure intelligent, we can guarantee availability and enhance safety in local and long-distance travel.”

During the demonstration of the AI powered tram, driver Norbert Gresing sat in the driver seat in the event that the tram needed the intervention of a human hand. It did not however require human intervention during the public real-time demonstration.

At this stage of its development the refitted Combino is, according to Siemens, only being used to demonstrate the potential of its autonomous tram system and the current project aims to help identify the technological challenges of operating an autonomous vehicle in real-world conditions.


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