SIEMENS Mobility and Potsdam Transport Authority (ViP) demonstrated a test of the Autonomous Tram in Depot (AStriD) research project on August 23, and confirmed that market maturity for the technology is expected in 2026.

A consortium consisting of Siemens Mobility, ViP, the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT), the Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility (IKEM) and Codework launched a research project for a fully automated tram depot in October 2019.

Funding for the three-year autonomous depot project is provided by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) as part of its Modernity Fund (mFund).

“AStriD is an important milestone on the way to achieving self-driving trams,” Siemens Mobility CEO rolling stock, Mr Albrech Neumann, said during the event in Potsdam. “Working with our partners, we are using valuable synergies to digitalise the depot and reduce time-consuming on-site shunting. By automating the depot, we can better support our customers in ensuring sustainable value growth over the entire lifecycle and guarantee the availability of their trams.

“We see great potential in saving long distances for personnel and thus time. The shunting journeys through the sanding and washing plant, to the workshop and to the parking area require a lot of personnel who would be more urgently needed in regular service.

“A fully automated depot ensures that the trams’ journey and standing times are optimised and that the washing and workshop facilities are utilised more evenly.”

The aim of the testing is to develop a digital depot based on self-driving LRVs. The technical feasibility of the research includes trams operating under various autonomous functions including running through a washing facility to a siding.

Siemens Mobility is developing the tram in the depot and the yard management system (YMS) where the tram receives its driving orders. Additionally, it is working with KIT to develop a digital map that will form the basis for tracking the tram’s location within the Potsdam depot.

ViP is undertaking the research and development at the depot. “Autonomous driving along the tram route and within the depot relieves our drivers and increases the safety of our passengers and other road users,” says Mr Uwe Loeschmann, CEO of ViP. “Autonomous tram operation in our depot with the AStriD system opens up the possibility of automated cleaning, supply and parking processes with central control and increased operational safety.”

ViP is providing the tram and depot infrastructure and enabling access to all required data, systems and facilities as well as evaluating the project’s findings from the depot operator’s perspective.

A test tram operating under real road conditions on a section of Potsdam’s tram network was demonstrated during the InnoTrans 2018 event, held in September that year.