Teleoperation ATO – Framework and human-centered design of teleoperation as a complement for automated railroad operations

The Teleoperation ATO project aims to develop a user-friendly concept for the Tele-Tf job profile in order to promote the efficiency and sustainability of highly automated rail transport in Germany and at the same time create attractive working conditions.

The automation of the railway system is a central component in the strategy of the German government for efficient and sustainable future rail transportation in Germany. Much of the current research in this context focuses on automatic train operation (ATO). Even in a highly automated railway system, human operators will remain indispensable, but many work tasks and roles will undergo a transformation. In particular, the task of train drivers will change significantly at higher levels of automation. Future ATO concepts envisage remote control of the train in the event of a problem (teleoperation). This integration of teleoperation will lead to the role of train drivers changing into the role of a remote controller or teleoperating train driver.

However, the task of a teleoperating train driver, who only takes over control of the train in the event of a problem, carries the risk of leading to working conditions that are characterized by monotony and predominantly passive monitoring activities. Such working conditions can lead to a loss of performance and thereby to a decrease in safety. Further effects can be dissatisfaction with the work as well as negative effects on mental and physical health. In order to prevent this, it is important to consider the human factor and the operators’ work tasks at an early stage in the development of ATO concepts. Attractive roles and workplaces can be designed for teleoperating train drivers, if future job profiles and workplaces are designed to be user-friendly from the very beginning of the implementation of high automation in railway systems.

The goal of the project Teleoperation ATO is therefore to develop a validated concept for the job profile of a teleoperating train driver that can be integrated into future automated railway operations. Starting with deriving the requirements for the workplace of a teleoperating train driver based on existing research, the job profile will be described considering human needs and capabilities, including basic qualification measures and the design of the associated workplace. In addition, an existing sensor concept for ATO will be adapted to allow the integration of teleoperation into ATO systems. Overall, the project offers the opportunity to contribute to making the railways of the future an attractive and satisfying workplace by developing a user-friendly job profile for teleoperating train drivers.

In the future, teleoperating train drivers will control trains remotely in the event of problems.

Project title:
Teleoperation ATO - Framework and human-centered design of teleoperation as a complement for automated railroad operations

03/2023 to 02/2025

Further link:

Reference to other projects:

This project is managed by the department:


Prof. Dr. Michael Ortgiese

Head of Department
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Institute of Transportation Systems
Research Design and Assessment of Mobility Solutions
Rutherfordstr. 2, 12489 Berlin