AI and railroading
Innovative technology can have a significant impact on the level of productivity and safety of transportation. Modern railroads have long required modernization, especially in aspects of autonomous operation, and thanks to artificial intelligence, this is becoming possible. Many experts agree with the assertion that integrating AI into railroad modernization is the only possible way to compete with other modes of transportation.
With AI-powered automation, some railroad companies are already increasing the flexibility of their operations, more efficiently:
- Handle peak loads;
- Reduce downtime caused by maintenance;
- Perform upgrades;
- Reduce the risk of force majeure, etc.
In recent years, the number of passengers and freight traffic has increased exponentially, while the capacity of rail transport remains limited. Therefore, ensuring safety remains very important. And here artificial intelligence has no equal. It is capable of:
- identifying obstacles on the railroad track and deciding what action to take in this situation: to give a warning signal or trigger an emergency stop mechanism;
- environmental monitoring, which is very important for maintaining safety during shunting operations;
- track condition monitoring employing special sensors installed on the train or along the rails themselves, which enables damage to be detected at a stage when it cannot lead to irreversible consequences, so operators have time to plan their elimination and avoid unplanned downtime.
Safety is not the only advantage of using artificial intelligence in the rail industry. Modern technology contributes to the economic efficiency of transportation and increases its environmental friendliness. In particular, the inclusion of AI in the driving control process already contributes to a 15% reduction in energy consumption compared to normal operation.
In the near term, AI is likely to help fully automate rail operations, improving throughput, quality, and safety.