Home Public Transportation The Future of Autonomous Rail Envisioned in Ontario

The Future of Autonomous Rail Envisioned in Ontario

by IAV Staff

A Canadian project positions the country to introduce advance driver assistance and autonomous technologies onboard trains that can function in all weather conditions.

MetroLinx Autonomous Rail
MetroLinx Autonomous Rail

Invision AI, Thales Canada and Metrolinx are building unique sensing and computing capabilities to provide enhanced situational awareness to existing rail systems and are capable of operating in severe winter conditions. The goal of this partnership is to build a platform that will ultimately enable deployments in urban, regional and mainline rail networks globally.

Within a six-month period, the system was prototyped and installed on a Metrolinx GO train, operating on multiple lines in Toronto, Ontario. The system is equipped on the front of the train and includes; radars, cameras and LiDAR, for multi-spectral sensing ahead of the train, along with a cyber secured 4G/LTE connected data collection and processing system. These technologies actively collect important data which can then be used to train the system to recognize obstacles and other dangers. The data gathering activities will continue for an additional six months in different weather and environmental conditions.

Additionally, the technology equipped on the train is providing real-time information and data, such as next-generation positioning, train telemetry, and diagnostics information, to ensure the system is running smoothly.

For operators, the benefits of this new solution include enhanced safety, rapid installation time due to the minimal equipment footprint, enhanced ‘look ahead’ sensing to detect and track potential obstacles, and accurate real-time data collection crucial for maintenance and operations teams. For passengers, this will contribute to fewer delays, improved safety and enhanced reliability of the network.

This project aligns with Metrolinx’s safety-first culture for staff, customers and community members by limiting the possibility of train incidents.

“We are excited to be solving the difficulties associated with autonomous rail systems and harsh winter conditions, an interesting challenge that we can all relate to,” said Karim Ali, CEO of Invision AI.

Thales, a global company, Invision AI, a Toronto-based technology start-up, and Metrolinx, the regional transportation agency for the Province of Ontario, have joined forces with support from the Ontario government, through AVIN’s WinterTech Development program, and led by the Ontario Centre of Innovation. WinterTech supports commercializing of winter-ready innovative mobility solutions. The Ontario government’s contribution to this project, through AVIN, of $483,600 leverages partners’ contributions of $992,760, for a total project value of $1,476,360.

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