Why can’t the Indian Railways deploy autonomous train engines to …

Why can’t the Indian Railways deploy autonomous train engines to reduce railway accidents? Deploying intelligent unmanned railway crossings should also be cost effective! ,

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41 thoughts

  1. For autonomous vehicle, the whole rail system has to be reliable and predictable in terms of it’s operations.
    Underlying infrastructure quality and support makes it hard to manage operations in an autonomous way.

  2. Very advanced Signalling and Communication (CBTS) are to be implemented first on nearly 15000 route kms. Will cost tremendous amount of money. Had it been so easy would already been done by the advanced economies.

  3. The railway minister needs to have a renewal of mind to think in these lines. His brain and DNA need to be automated first. Cost effectiveness is a scary word for our politicians because how will they be able to maximize their bottom lines ? They can’t because the don’t care and even if they miraculously do this it should take atleast 10 year’s just to implement just like our arms deals.

  4. A total of 46lacs trains run in India per year (approx : Quora). Imagine all of them are autonomous. Now even if 0.01% of the autonomous systems fail in a year, 460 train systems will fail. Think about the liabilities that might occur due to such incidents. Even highly advanced economies like Japan running bullet trains are putting humans behind trains to limit their liabilities. So, I think it’ll take longer for countries like India to reach the autonomous Era. Thoughts?

  5. OMG! Please do not give such ideas openly sir. This will start another race for commission business ? finally creating more issues than efficiency.
    Meanwhile, heard an indigenous autonomous engine is being tested somewhere in India by the railways…

  6. Railways, armed forces are a political tool to generate mass employment. If railways becomes “too smart” we would have to stop employing a large portion of the semi skilled labour. This takes a lot of political will which has always been lacking Dr Aniruddha Malpani

  7. Good idea. With IOT they can go for stage wise automation. However first priority should be automated doors that closes just before train starts. I mean it’s unbelievable that we have so many casualties that happen falling off from moving trains. I feel railways should be privatized. Image a private company involved in an accident. Somehow if it’s public, we all seem to okay wherever they do.

  8. Dr Aniruddha Malpani, once Swach Bharath is successfully implemented next to railway tracks of the any city in India, we can think of implementing autonomous railways, else Morning trains will never reach the stations. Lol ?

  9. Dr Aniruddha Malpani why not autonomous electric freight trains (no battery). They can eliminate a lot of trucks because they are more efficient. Australian gov is working with private entities to develop such a technology.This will be very beneficial to the private sector.
    Truck logistics services lose a sizable amount of money to corruption every year and they also create a lot pollution while they are at it (excluding losses due to delivery delay and inefficient management).
    With automation you are essentially de-risking an operation, here – the train can run at high speeds safetly using automation.
    In the future there will an AI, a human and a dog at the workplace. The dog will be there to keep the human from touching all the equipment.

  10. Autonomous engines – need another 100 years. Like Geethaji said, engine is just one link of an enormous infrastructure needed for driverless trains.
    Intelligent gates – a definite, cheaper possibility. But, like ATMs you need a guard for each gate anyway to prevent thefts. This is India.

  11. With the employees union of an organisation which is the world’s largest employer, do you think any govt will dare take any such step and lose their votes?

  12. Dr Aniruddha Malpani great idea…there is an organisation called RDSO (Govt of India). On talking to some of their scientists or engineers one will get many answers for ones ignorance. The real issue is with the ecosystem – it begins from land acquisition for the tracks and platforms and countered by encroachments.
    Coming on autonomous engines for railways…IMHO it could wait…top priority should be assigned to clean toilets in trains and stations. Any thoughts Ashwin Natarajan

    1. Actually depends on railway minister – many issues are there and lots of potential as well, heard that rdso puts timelines of projects in 3 year or longer cycles. My own take is that innovations in the manned and unmanned gates should be a big priority since we Indians tend to not follow rules.

  13. There r 2 big issues…. Cost involved is gonna be very high and political will do do it. You may ask why is the cost higher – we will need to set up d manufacturing plants or call for tender to procure these devices and it gets into bureaucratic red tapism, which ends up taking years. Only way to cut thru this is by extreme political will. We had 150+kms train engines in 1960s and post that India took social route n stopped upgrading infrastructure across the sectors, instead focusing on Agro/ rural life. It’s high time we upgrade our Railways, as this can boost the economy thru faster cargo n passenger movement.

  14. Because its Indian: it cant be problem free at any cost. Infact we need more investment on how to create more problems so that in next election politicians may ask for vote to solve it.

  15. I guess if automation was done and a gate motor system fails someday, you think you’d be okay to be behind a wheel waiting to get to your 10 o’clock while reporting the incident to Indian railway customer support?
    I believe atleast in a sector thats operated at that scale, creating employment would be a sustainable goal rather than mere automation.

  16. We are working closely with a start up that has developed a system like the one mentioned by you. We are looking for $0.5M to execute the deployment once we formally get the work order. Happy to connect them to you if it intrests you.

  17. Complete autonomy has it’s failures too and there is no better resource than human mind. To Increase safety, supplementary safety systems must be introduced that uses technology to alert, trigger emergency stops, and audio visual alarms. Technology available is diverse and should be used as per cost benefit and relevant to the application.

  18. GoI is working on introducing indigenous technology in India Railways. I have seen the improvement starting from a manual ticketing window to ATVM. From old rusty cathode ray dumb terminals to new LCD based terminals. Right now RDSO is working on advance coaches where they are using latest wireless sensor, infotainment tablets for users, sensors for IAQ, energy meter, GSM/GPRS based real time tracking and many more. Point is having a autonomous train is a big project and i am sure, that some engineers in Railways would have thought of that, but again like many other Government organizations politics play its role. On the other hand, railway union will come into scene when they will hear about the automation.  

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