Siemens tested an autonomous tram in the German city of Potsdam last week. The vehicle operated alongside the normal urban traffic.
Just like autonomous cars, the tram is equipped with radar technology and cameras to survey the traffic situation. Software ensures that the tram reacts as necessary. This includes stopping at a tram stop, accelerating again to the next stop, stopping for red traffic lights and braking or stopping as necessary for intersecting traffic or pedestrians crossing the road.
During one of the test drives, a Siemens engineer suddenly pushed a shopping trolley in front of the tram. The autonomous vehicle reacted abruptly and stopped in time, before continuing on its route once the road was clear again. No further intervention was required from the driver, who is present in case of emergency situations.
The test was conducted on a 6-kilometre-long stretch of the tramway network in Potsdam. It included an intersection with another tram line. To prevent any complications with embarking or disembarking, passengers were not allowed on board during the test drives.
Siemens conducted the test drives within the framework of InnoTrans 2018. This is the international trade fair for rail-based transport technology, held in Berlin this year, according to a press release by the company. Siemens does not envisage commercial applications for this system. It was first and foremost a demonstration of the technology.
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