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Hitachi presents future train station concept, including robots and real-time service adjustments

Hitachi envisions AI-enabled robots transforming passenger experience.

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Hitachi has unveiled a concept for the railway station of the future in the UK, building on its trials and deployments elsewhere around the globe. The vision includes robots which can show passengers how to find their train and other station amenities.

 

Hitachi first trialled its robot technology with the public at Tokyo’s Haneda airport in 2017. The robot, called EMIEW3, was able to communicate in multiple languages and used artificial intelligence whilst connecting to a central computer system to gain information about what was taking place at the airport.

 

The concept also incorporates real-time information to personalise the passenger experience, including data being sent direct from the train to a passenger’s phone. Mobile apps could guide people to certain shops, restaurants or information points, instead of using physical signs.

 

In Copenhagen, Hitachi’s metro system changes the frequency of the service by monitoring real-time passenger numbers.

 

In Copenhagen, Hitachi’s metro system changes the frequency of the service by monitoring real-time passenger numbers. The digital system can detect increases in passenger volumes, and instantly begin running more driverless trains closer together to cope with demand.

 

Battery-powered trains

 

As well as being simpler to use, Hitachi envisions the station of the future being a much cleaner environment. Hitachi has a battery-powered train running in Japan and plans to roll these out more widely, replacing existing diesel fleets.

 

As more people are encouraged to use rail instead of flying or driving, Hitachi says its new station concept is designed to support higher passenger numbers, especially people who don’t use trains regularly.

 

 

Hitachi Rail’s Nick Hughes, said: “Britain’s train stations could be revolutionised in the years to come as we harness the latest breakthroughs in robotic and artificial intelligence technology. Our concept of a smart station is already becoming a reality, with much of this technology already being trialled in Japan and Europe.”

 

Room for improvement

 

A report released earlier this year by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) found that since 1992, the number of rail journeys has grown by 95 per cent in the UK.

 

In January, the UK’s transport watchdog Transport Focus found that rail passenger satisfaction in the UK was at its lowest level for a decade due to poor punctuality, timetable disruption in summer 2018 and strikes. In spring this year, Transport Focus said passenger satisfaction rose nationally to 83 per cent thanks to better reliability and new trains.

 

The end of the ticket barrier?

 

Hitachi’s new concept follows the company’s recent announcement that it has begun trials of smart sensor technology which could see ticket barriers made obsolete at stations.

In Japan and China, Hitachi’s technology powers smart ticketing systems, which process over 50 million journeys per day across 100 modes of transport, as well as being accepted by hotels and shops. In Japan alone, this equates to 577 transactions per second.

 

In Japan and China, Hitachi’s technology powers smart ticketing systems, which process over 50 million journeys per day across 100 modes of transport.

 

Hitachi’s vision ties in with the conclusions of a recent Atos rail roundtable attended by SmartCitiesWorld. Senior delegates agreed that building a new kind of relationship with customers, driven by data, is key to unlocking opportunity and growth for UK rail. They also discussed the challenges they face in achieving this.

 

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