The research project aims to develop a digital depot based on self-driving trams and demonstrate autonomous service functions, such as moving a tram through a washing facility to a siding.
Siemens Mobility and ViP Verkehrsbetrieb Potsdam has completed a demonstration test of the Autonomous Tram in Depot research project (AStriD).
The three-year research and development project is being implemented at the depot operated by Verkehrsbetrieb Potsdam and is supported by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) as part of its Modernity Fund (mFund).
A consortium consisting of Siemens Mobility, ViP Verkehrsbetrieb Potsdam, the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (Kit), the Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility (Ikem), and Codewerk began its joint research on a fully automated tram depot in October 2019. The technology is expected to be market-ready in 2026.
At the InnoTrans 2018, Siemens Mobility and Verkehrsbetrieb Potsdam demonstrated a test tram operating under real road conditions on a section of the German city of Potsdam’s tram network.
The research project that resulted from this initiative aims to develop a digital depot based on self-driving trams. The technical feasibility of the concept will be demonstrated with autonomous service functions, such as moving a tram through a washing facility to a siding.
“This is an important, future-oriented project. The participation of the state capital and its transport company shows how the spirit of innovation is thriving in Potsdam”
Making depot automation commercially viable is thus a first stage of introducing autonomous driving. From the start, the project is considering the various legal and economic conditions that must be fulfilled for the approval and operation of an autonomous tram.
“This is an important, future-oriented project. The participation of the state capital and its transport company shows how the spirit of innovation is thriving in Potsdam,” said Potsdam mayor Mike Schubert. “If this new technology can be used in the coming years, it could help transport companies modernise local public transport. That’s why we’re pleased to be working as a project partner of Siemens on what we believe is a pioneering development.”
The consortium partners have divided the project into different work packages. Siemens Mobility is developing the self-driving tram in the depot and the yard management system (YMS) that gives the tram its driving orders. In addition, it is working with project partner Kit to develop the digital map that is the basis for tracking the tram’s location within the depot.
ViP Verkehrsbetrieb Potsdam is providing the tram and the depot infrastructure, enabling access to all required data, systems, and facilities, and evaluating the project’s findings from the perspective of a depot operator.
The Kit Institute for Information Processing Technology (ITIV) is contributing its expertise in the specification and digitalisation of depots, the automation of processes, and identifying the necessary data, and is supporting the development of the digital map. The Ikem is analysing and evaluating the legal and economic issues related to the project.
“AStriD is an important milestone on the way to achieving self-driving trams. Working with our partners, we are using valuable synergies to digitalise the depot and reduce time-consuming on-site shunting”
Codewerk specialises in industrial systems and, among other things, develops software for data communication on rail vehicles. In this project, It is supporting the communication between the tram and control centre and is responsible for integrating parts of the depot infrastructure.
“AStriD is an important milestone on the way to achieving self-driving trams. Working with our partners, we are using valuable synergies to digitalise the depot and reduce time-consuming on-site shunting,” said Albrecht Neumann, CEO rolling stock, Siemens Mobility.
“By automating the depot, we can better support our customers in ensuring sustainable value growth over the entire lifecycle and guaranteeing the availability of their trams.”