Unmanned urban trains, a reality in 5 to 10 years – Interview with Burkhard Stadlmann, University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria

Unmanned urban trains, a reality in 5 to 10 years – Interview with Burkhard Stadlmann, University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria

Burkhard Stadlmann is Professor of Automation Engineering at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria. He will speak at the Unmanned Cargo Ground Vehicle Conference, on June 14, 2017, in Venlo, The Netherlands. His speech gives an overview of the different applications of automatic train driving and their challenges for automatic driving on rails. The biggest challenge autonomous trains are open access tracks, which can be found in populated areas which need a high level of sense and avoid.

“Safety in different situations with the train is our major challenge. Even the weather can have a lot of impact on train operations. Think of high winds that can cause snapped trees over the tracks, ice and even wet tracks have a negative impact. Trains need long braking distances in an emergency, which is not always available,” explains Burkhard Stadlmann. “There are different applications regarding the various lines and the different transport modes (passenger, freight, long distance, regional, urban, etc.) that require special techniques. This is also challenging for the many different sensors aboard a train.”

There are already a great number of autonomous trains in the world, think of the underground services in many large cities. Here these trains are driving on tracks which are completely sealed of from the public. “These urban networks are state of the art and can be quite easily introduced. In those tubes the biggest challenge is the safety of passengers in case of disturbances. But this can be solved,” Stadlmann explains. “With the driver aboard it is not such a problem, but without a driver, it takes extra input to get the homologation of the government.” Tracks running outside a tube can be closed off from the public by fences, which is more and more often done in various countries.

unmanned train


The advantages of unmanned trains are versatile. It is thus possible to use less energy. By driving more efficiently you can save 5 to 10% of the cost. But the biggest advantage in urban and regional lines is in the cost savings of personnel. A driver less saves some money and possibly the one-time driver can change his job to serving the passengers. “We have experienced that one extra person in the cabin improves safety and security of the passengers greatly,“ according to Stadlmann. He sees great potential for the unmanned trains in regional and suburban passenger lines and in freight considering the first and last mile of a transport. The latter are mostly in the marshaling yard close to the terminals, were personal cost are significant. Stadlmann will describe the advantages and challenges of unmanned trains in his speech on June 14.

For more information and registration to the Unmanned Cargo Ground Vehicle Conference, we invite you to visit https://unmannedcargogroundvehicleconference.com/

The interview was made by Jakajima, the organiser of the conference. For more interviews with speakers at Jakajima conferences, we invite you to visit Jakajima’s website

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.