ONTARIO’s Metrolinx transport agency, Thales and Toronto-based technology start-up Invision AI have started a six-month test of autonomous technologies on a Toronto Metrolinx Go train. 

The technologies will be tested on the train for six months in different weather and environmental conditions including extreme weather. 

The front of the train is equipped with radar, lidar and cameras, as well as a cyber-secured 4G/LTE-connected data collection and processing system. These systems collect data which can then be used to train the system to recognise obstacles and other dangers. 

The prototype is equipped to provide real-time information and data, such as next-generation positioning, train telemetry, and diagnostics information.  

The system was developed by the partners over six months through a $C 1.48m ($US 1.17m) project, as part of the Ontario provincial government’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (Avin) initiative. 

The project is primarily being funded through a $C 992,760 contribution from the partners. The remaining cost is being covered through a $C 483,600 contribution from the Avin WinterTech Development programme, which supports small and medium-sized enterprises and their partners to commercialise winter-ready mobility solutions.  

The system is designed to offer enhanced situational awareness for train operation, with the goal of ultimately building a commercial platform capable of deployment in urban, regional and mainline rail networks worldwide. The technology is expected to offer operators greater safety, reliability and efficiency, quick installations and accurate real-time data collection for maintenance and operations teams.  

“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,” say the partners. “For passengers, this will contribute to fewer delays, improved safety and enhanced reliability of the network.” 

“This project demonstrates the strengths of Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network, bringing together ambitious technology start-ups and industry leaders to pioneer next-generation mobility technologies with global potential,” says Mr Vic Fedeli, Ontario’s minister of economic development, job creation and trade. “This unique partnership between Invision AI, Thales and Metrolinx offers enhanced safety and efficiency for rail systems around the world, particularly those operating in harsh winter climates. It’s an endeavour we’re very proud to support.”