First in Poland Ride in NEWAG’s Tram using Autonomous Ride Control

On 27th January, 2020 before midnight, the first in Poland tram trip using an autonomous ride control mode took place in the presence of the Mayor of Cracow Mr Jacek Majchrowski, President of NEWAG SA Mr Zbigniew Konieczek and President of MPK Kraków Mr Rafał Świerczyński.

The trip started at the National Museum stop where gathered guests boarded the 126N NEVELO tram manufactured by NEWAG from Nowy Sącz, and subsequently, it continued the route along Cracow’s Błonie [Greens] in the direction of “Cichy Kącik” tram terminal, from where the tram headed back to the initial stop, i.e., the National Museum.

Within an  implemented research and development project, an autonomous tram control system was designed and produced for 126N tram manufactured by NEWAG S.A., which communicates with the tram’s main controller, enabling it to ride without a tram driver being present in the cab. The system  makes it possible to control the tram’s speed, doors, warning signal and the superiority of the signals from the board (e.g., a safety brake or emergency braking).

Using the satellite navigation and measuring the road path, the system allows to stop and start the tram at tram stops automatically (door opening and closing and switching on a warning signal before  the tram starts moving) and it reacts to speed limits, section insulators etc.

The goal of the project titled “Automation of tram ride as a tool supporting tram drivers’ work” is mainly implementing the so-called tram driver’s assistant, supporting their work and controlling ride parameters in order to increase safety.

The supervision of the tram driver’s work covered:

  • Controlling tram speed – slowing down in case when the tram driver is driving too fast not following speed limits,
  • Breaking starting at section insulators,
  • Detecting obstacles and verifying the possibility to continue driving – adjusting tram speed,
  • Automation of starting and braking at tram stops and at traffic lights,
  • Optionally – communicating with traffic lights and adjusting tram speed to traffic light cycles to ensure a smooth ride.

This is a research and development project encompassing the following stages:

  • Precise controlling of autonomous tram ride using the navigation system,
  • Mounting and testing obstacle detection systems,
  • Programming  a particular tram route,
  • Starting the tram’s  supervised operation using the “Tram driver’s assistant” system.

The ultimate goal is to implement a fully autonomous tram ride in urban traffic.

Project partners: NEWAG S.A., Politechnika Krakowska Instytut Pojazdów Szynowych [Cracow’s Technical University, Rail Vehicles Institute], CYBID Sp. z o.o., Miejskie Przedsiębiorstwo Komunikacyjne [Municipal Transport Company] S.A. in Cracow and MEDCOM Sp. z o.o.

Watch a film from the test ride:  here