Transportation

Driverless Trains Could Be Only 5 Years Away

A German rail company plans to test a driverless train equipped with cameras and technology aimed to detect obstacles later this year.

by Friederike Heine, dpa, Hamburg, Germany / June 14, 2016
German rail company Deutsche Bahn is planning to introduce driverless trains. flickr/Cerise Framby

(TNS) — German rail company Deutsche Bahn said Friday that it is planning to introduce driverless trains as early as 2021.

"I expect us to be able to operate parts of our network completely automatically by 2021, 2022 or 2023," Ruediger Grube, chief executive of Deutsche Bahn, told the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

"Autonomous driving can be difficult in a complex rail network that includes high-speed and regional passenger and goods trains, ... but it is possible," Grube said.

Confirming the report, a spokesman for Deutsche Bahn said that the first testing of driverless trains would take place on a 30-kilometre track in the eastern state of Saxony later this year.

He said that the trains to be used in the tests had been fitted with cameras and technology aimed to detect obstacles on the track and halt the train before collision, adding that there are also liability questions that had yet to be ironed out.

In February, the head-on collision of two commuter trains in upper Bavaria killed 11 people and injured dozens of others. The accident was blamed on the signals control officer in charge of the train.

©2016 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.