A central goal of the research work on "Safe and Robust Communications and Localization for Next Generation Trains" is to bring more passenger and freight traffic onto the rails and thus make an important contribution to decarbonizing transport. We are researching key technologies that will make rail transport more autonomous and enable trains to be composed more flexibly, thereby optimizing route capacities and increasing passenger comfort through fewer transfers. Together with cooperation partners, we are taking the lead in planning and developing the necessary communication and localization methods to enable such new approaches and test them in real-world environments.
One of these key technologies is the automatically controlled and virtual coupling of trains - also known as platooning of trains. In the virtual coupling applicataion, trains are no longer connected mechanically or electrically, but wireless communications. Train consists with different routes can thus be coupled in one train and handed over to other trains while traveling on the open track. Thus, the rail network can be better utilized through a denser train sequence. Reliable wireless communications and highly available and accurate train localization are fundamental requirements for virtual coupling of trains.
For field trials, we were able to retrofit a specially equipped high-speed train, Deutsche Bahn's "advanced TrainLab", as an experimental vehicle for robust multi-sensor localization and reliable, low-latency wireless communication with radio-frequency technology, special antennas and sensors on board, and conduct extensive test series and experiments in real scenarios.
Details on Robust multisensor localization: Project IMPACT
Details on reliable, low-latency communication: Project V2X-DuRail