Automatic Train Operation (ATO) – greater assistance in the cab.
ATO is an important component of smartrail 4.0 and contributes to an increase in the density of train journeys by supporting the locomotive crew. smartrail 4.0 will make automatic train operation (ATO) possible as part of an incremental development of the current train movement recommendations. Engine drivers will continue to be present and have responsibility and will be needed more than ever in the future due to the growing range of services.
Within the framework of this sub-programme, pilot projects will be carried out to determine the potential of different approaches to automation for supporting locomotive crews. Initial tests concerned an assistance system for engine drivers which is comparable to cruise control in a car: The engine driver sits in the driver’s cab monitoring the systems and intervening if necessary. ATO dispenses with manual acceleration and braking. The link to adaptive control allows an energy-optimised driving profile to be realised automatically, as well as a smoother driving style that passengers will appreciate. This corresponds to the second degree of automation, which is a step-by-step further development of present-day train movement recommendations in the direction of supporting automated driving operation. This is a building block for increasing the density of train journeys.
By way of comparison: At level GoA3 there is still a staff member on board. Only at GoA4 would the train be unmanned. In the medium to long term in the Swiss railway system, based upon the current level of technology, unmanned trains will at best be economically viable for shunting or train stabling, and rarely for normal railway operations. In future, the locomotive crew will therefore continue to be present and have responsibility in the driver’s cab. smartrail 4.0 is not about self-driving or unaccompanied trains – quite the contrary. In order to run the service robustly in the future, engine drivers will be needed in the cab more than ever.