Parallel Systems launches autonomous rail vehicle platooning

Parallel Systems launches autonomous rail vehicle platooning

This technology, demonstrated on a test track in Southern California, promises to revolutionize freight rail efficiency, reduce aerodynamic drag, and better utilize rail network capacity.

Parallel Systems has made a significant breakthrough in freight rail. On 20 December 2023, the company demonstrated for the first time its autonomous battery-electric freight rail vehicles that can form platoons by bumper-to-bumper contact. This technology eliminates the need for traditional coupling, enabling more efficient sorting on the rail network and keeping level crossings open.

The public demonstration included real-life footage of the Parallel vehicles successfully forming platoons on a test track in Southern California, USA. These individually powered railcars can form platoons of up to 50 cars, improving aerodynamic energy efficiency and making better use of rail network capacity.

The platooning process is fully automated, eliminating the need for railcars to physically couple or connect air brake lines. Each vehicle in a platoon maintains contact with the vehicle in front by controlling its tractive effort. The technology not only reduces drag but also allows individual wagons to separate for different destinations or to clear level crossings. In addition, the braking systems are self-contained, eliminating the need for connecting air lines.

One of the key benefits of this technology is the potential elimination of the need for extensive rail classification yards, which are traditionally used to sort railcars. Parallel's platooning technology enables wagons to connect and disconnect independently, allowing freight to be sorted anywhere on the network with a switch.

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