Both passenger and freight railways are already preparing for the introduction of fully autonomous trains. At the moment, trains without a driver operate only on separate lines, and autonomous steering systems are used in the metro, among others, in Paris, Sydney and Shanghai. These solutions are developed thanks to artificial intelligence, which is used today in the world in high-speed railways. Although in Poland they are only at the planning stage, technologies in the field of AI are already being developed and implemented by Polish carriers and engineers. The benefits of intelligent solutions include greater safety and prevention of breakdowns, reduction of costs, greater punctuality of trains and comfort of travelers.
The government’s “Policy for the development of artificial intelligence in Poland from 2020” indicates that this technology has great potential to strengthen the national economy. The development of AI in Poland is expected to increase the GDP dynamics by about 2.65 percentage points each year, and by 2030 to automate even 49% of working time in Poland, while generating better-paid jobs in key sectors. One of them is transport, including rail, which is one of the industries most susceptible to the benefits of implementing AI. There are, however, some barriers to its development in Poland.
“Rail transport is a very wide field, and although artificial intelligence brings financial benefits in the long term, it requires an investment expenditure first. In rail transport, we also deal with very strict safety requirements. There is some resistance to replacing a human who makes decisions in critical situations with a machine. Legal norms are also barriers to the development of artificial intelligence in railways: according to Polish law, at least one driver must be present in a rail vehicle, which limits the development of autonomous vehicles” – explains Aleksander Lisowiec.
Also, the second institute from the Łukasiewicz Research Network – KOMEL develops solutions in the field of highly advanced ICT technologies for the safety of railway traffic. This is the purpose of the TEREPAK telemetry recorder of critical parameters, developed by engineers, used in rolling stock. The device allows remote monitoring of important drives, measurements and analyzes of the operating parameters of selected devices. Thanks to the use of communication via the Internet or GSM, TEREPAK facilitates remote control of the system, observation and comparison of parameters from various sensors, and enables the services responsible for the operation of machines to be notified about emerging emergency situations.