The autonomous train development project took a major step by carrying out field tests successfully in Finland. The project is led by private rail expert company Proxion. GoA4 level locomotive performed missions on a private track. Senior Ministerial Adviser Janne Hauta from ministry of transport and communications had the privilege to send the train to its first mission.
Fully automated and integrated supply chain between production and terminal
Project director Reijo Viinonen states that the autonomous train is intended to be a safe, sustainable, and competitive industrial transport mode. The autonomous, battery driven and shunting free transportation will be the future of industrial logistics.
New technologies from Finland
Partners in the development project funded partly by Business Finland. Together they have been innovated and brought solutions for the autonomous train logistic on industrial rails.
VTT is one of Europe’s leading research institutions and is government owned.
-ADAS (Automated driving Assistant Systems) on market have been developed for the road transport, says Principal scientist Pertti Peussa from VTT. It is important to develop perception systems that are designed for railway environment. Reliable and safe operations in all conditions must be ensured also on tracks.
Electric Power Finland has been responsible for development of trackside equipment such as level crossings and fitting it to the needs of autonomous train unit.
-Our electronic switch communicates with the train unit wirelessly, for example using the 5G network, and the train commands the switch to ensure a safe path for itself, says Jani Tupitsa, EPF’s R&D Manager.
The field tests were carried out on Voikkaa Business area’s railyard by modified Otso 4 locomotive. Besides the test unit, Steelwheel is responsible for concept design of the battery-driven autonomous locomotive.
-Field tests which were performed here today proved us that current rolling-stock can be fitted for autonomous driving, says Kimmo Hämäläinen, CEO of Steelwheel. Our sustainable, battery-driven locomotive will be the future of the industrial transportation.
Technical Manager Kimmo Kolehmainen from Proxion presented the Proxion Train Logistics Management System (PTLMS), a software that manages the supply chain. Mr. Kolehmainen also highlighted the importance of CCS+ software of which development Proxion is also responsible.
-Automated and integrated transportation will enhance logistic competitiveness and productivity, continues Viinonen.
Regulation is lagging behind
The autonomous train is ahead of its time. The regulation package prepared by the European Railway Agency covers the grade of automation levels 1 and 2. On test runs in Finland were piloted GoA4 level.
-This forward-looking project can be illustrated by EU regulations, says Senior Ministerial Adviser Janne Hauta from the ministry of transport and communications. For Levels 3 and 4, regulation is expected around the middle of this decade at the earliest. Today we look strongly forward.
The EU strategy for sustainable and smart mobility directs that the Commission recommends large scale testing and demonstrations to support new solutions. In addition, ministry is reviewing railway legislation from an automation perspective.
– I am sure that the autonomous train project will provide us with valuable information. It gives a direction in which the regulation should be developed both in the EU and in Finland, Hauta continues. R&D needs an agile regulatory framework for their valuable work.
Business Finland involved from the beginning
Business Finland has been financing both the concept phase in 2019-2020 and the research and development phase in 2021-22.
-We just want to be involved in financing such export-oriented projects and creating new business, says Tom Warras from Business Finland. To get us to the next phase of the project, I welcome an even wider range of partners, for example from industrial and operational side. Together, we can make the new success story for the Finnish export industry.
You can also follow the project on our website: www.goa4.fi.
Autonomous train media bank: www.kuvat.fi/TCKRYQ4ZM6.