Nokia and Deutsche Bahn to test standalone 5G for autonomous trains
Nokia has won a tender with German rail company Deutsche Bahn to test and deliver standalone 5G for autonomous trains and rail operations.
It will be the first time a standalone 5G system has been used for rail automation, said Nokia. The project, based in Hamburg, in Germany, constitutes a step in the development of the Future Railway Mobile Communications System (FRMCS) standard, based on 5G, positioned as the successor to the current GSM-R standard.
The Hamburg proof will test whether 5G is “mature enough” to be used as the connectivity layer for rail operations. Kathrin Buvac, president of Nokia’s enterprise unit and chief strategy officer, called the project a “milestone” towards FRMCS and “making Industry 4.0 a reality.”
Deutsche Bahn’s highly automated S-Bahn digital transformation project (‘Digitale S-Bahn Hamburg’) will see automated trains run on a 23-kilometre section of the S-Bahn Line 21 by 2021. Trains will start at Berliner Tor, one of the main transport hubs in Hamburg. Train drivers will keep watch, and retain “safety responsibility”.
The Hamburg demo will include fully driverless shunting of empty trains in an area near Bergedorf station, based on the transmission of train control information over a 5G mobile network. Standalone 5G will allow highly or fully automated trains to exchange relevant data with trackside equipment by 5G radio.
“This will have positive effects on cross-border operation, capacity of rail infrastructure, punctuality of trains and also on customer experience,” said Nokia.
Nokia has provided GSM-R systems to rail operators in 22 countries, covering 109,000 kilometres of track. It has provided networking, cybersecurity, IoT and analytics solutions to 110+ operators for both mainline and metro rail, it claims.