Russia Unrolls Autonomous Trains
A Rostec company, the V. Tikhomirov Scientific Research Institute of Instrument Design, recently deployed its newest software for autonomously controlling trains on Russian lines. The “driver-less train control” software will deploy first in Circle Line, Moscow Metro. The fully autonomous trains will be responsible for everything but opening and closing the doors — and even then, the software will have something to say about it.
After 10 years of research and development and a brief half year of field testing on the Moscow Metro lines, the new autopilot began driving the trains in mid-February.
The system is capable of running trains between stations, stopping with a 3 centimeter margin of error, maintaining safe speed limits, and in turn, reducing driver fatigue and human error. The driver can switch to manual controls whenever needed and operate the doors. The software checks if the train is idle and at the platform for safe loading and unloading.
The company claims the software is safe from any unauthorized access and protected by security strategies similar to those taken by the Russian military. This is not surprising – the company also develops armament and fire control systems for the Russian Air Force and mid-range antiaircraft missile systems for the Army Air Defense. Security of the system is further enhanced by a train identification feature with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) labels.
For the last 25 years, the V. Tikhomirov Scientific Research Institute of Instrument Design has been working on civil projects regarding automated control systems, maintenance and logistics, and subway safety. They instituted the Vityaz auto control system for trains for the first time in 1993 and the system is still in use today.
The company is poised to usher in the next generation of automated control systems and promises more autonomous trains to come.