Knorr-Bremse and Thales to collaborate on the automation of freight trains

Knorr-Bremse and Thales to collaborate on the automation of freight trains

The ATO system is designed to improve the efficiency, punctuality, and competitiveness of rail freight transport.

Knorr-Bremse and Thales have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on the development of Automatic Train Operation (ATO) solutions for locomotive-hauled freight and passenger trains.

Automatic Train Operation (ATO) brings a number of benefits to the rail freight sector. These include increased efficiency and capacity, energy savings, improved performance, and better punctuality. In particular, train punctuality depends on consistent and smooth train driving, which is influenced by track characteristics, topography, surrounding traffic, and specific train parameters.

“In our industry, Automatic Train Operation is a key lever for making rail freight more efficient and more available, increasing transportation capacity, and further optimizing lifecycle costs for operators”, said Nicolas Lange, Chairman of the Management Board of Knorr-Bremse Rail Vehicle Systems.

Digital and automated functions are expected to contribute significantly to improving the monitoring and use of trains. Sensor-based data will provide drivers with intelligent insights in real-time and suggest optimal driving strategies. A smart interaction of the expertise between the two companies will therefore be crucial. Especially in existing fleets, Automatic Train Operation will support drivers in their daily work, which in turn is expected to contribute to eliminating staff shortages in rail freight transport.

“Full autonomy is still a work in progress, although the necessary technologies are maturing rapidly. ATO is one of them, as a necessary step toward achieving fully autonomous driving. Thales has a clear vision for autonomy and is pleased to partner with Knorr-Bremse, a leading company in braking systems and other mission-critical train systems, with the aim of accelerating the development of automated train functions in the freight market,” added Yves Joannic, Vice President Main Line Signalling and Managing Director Ground Transportation Systems at Thales Germany.

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