Germany Launches Its First Autonomous Tram Depot Project

Six companies are collaborating in the three-year research project, which began in October.

Germany Launches Its First Autonomous Tram Depot Project
“Autonomous Tram in Depot” Siemens Mobility GmbH

From cars to buses, autonomous vehicles are on the rise. Now, trams will be included in the sphere of autonomous vehicles. In a six-company-strong collaboration, the Autonomous Tram in Depot (AStriD) project has been launched in Potsdam, Germany. 

The research project is led by Siemens Mobility and includes five other companies: Verkehrsbetrieb Potsdam (ViP), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility (IKEM), Codewerk and Mapillary.

The project is focused on exploring different options for fully autonomous trams, in a fully automated tram depot.

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Automated Depot

"AStriD is the next big milestone on the way to autonomous trams. By automating time-consuming shunting operations in the depot, we want to better support our customers in ensuring sustainable value creation over the entire lifecycle as well as guaranteeing availability," said Sabrina Soussan, CEO of Siemens Mobility.

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The project is based in Potsdam, a city near Berlin, in Germany, and is based in the city's Verkehrsbetrieb Potsdam facility

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Germany Launches Its First Autonomous Tram Depot Project
ViP tram stop in Potsdam. Source: Alan B/Flickr

The research will be based in the automated tram depot, along with an automated tram.

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Throughout the thorough testing phase, the self-driving tram will be closely examined during various service operations – for instance, as it runs through a washing bay, onto the siding.

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Different companies collaborating

Each company will bring a crucial part to the project.

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Siemens is in charge of developing the autonomous tram in the depot; whereas the tram's integration into the data and system landscape via a data hub will be provided by Codewerk. Data will then be localized and tracked using Mapillary's digital mapping system.

Codewerk will also develop cloud and edge components for assimilating the data of all the different systems, and Mapillary will be providing a cloud-based online platform for the collection of all street images. 

Germany Launches Its First Autonomous Tram Depot Project
One of Potsdam's current trams. Source: KK70088/Flickr

Artificial Intelligence will be used to analyze and process the data to provide digital maps.

ViP in Potsdam is going to provide the tram and depot infrastructure as well as access to data, systems, and facilities, all while the company will evaluate the results as the depot operator.

KIT is to assist in the specification and digitalization of the depot, the automation process and the identification of necessary data. 

Last but not least, IKEM will analyze and assess the legal and economic issues that may arise with such a project.

Soussan declared: "AStriD is the next big milestone on the way to autonomous trams. By automating time-consuming shunting operations in the depot, we want to better support our customers in ensuring sustainable value creation over the entire lifecycle as well as guaranteeing availability."

The next three years of this project will be ground-breaking and will see a shift in the future of trams and tram operations.

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