Augsburg-based company Railergy has selected Aeva’s technologies to power its automatic train solution for major European freight carrier DB cargo.

DB Cargo has been working to implement digital technology across Germany by 2035, with the aim of transforming the ‘already environmentally friendly train even more efficient’.

DB Cargo and the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV) have been jointly planning for the ‘Digital Rail Germany’ programme for across the century, with investments of approximately €3bn.

The Railergy solution features a combination of computing systems, centres and software, with the objective to have a certified retrofit package that can be put on various shunting locomotives. 

Railergy founder and director Jakob Gärtner told Railway Technology why Aeva was subcontracted and how Railergy’s solutions differ from the rest.

Gärtner said: “Aeva 4D LiDAR was selected due to its capacity to simultaneously identify the precise range and the velocity of small obstructions on and around the rails.

“We are also working with a Canadian company called Applanix, So you can imagine, we all learn together. Now we have the first phase of the project finished, where there is still a safety driver on board. We will move to the next phase where we will remove the need for this driver.

“But this also means that we have to do the software at the same quality levels, including ETCS or other safety-critical systems.”

“I wanted to add what is unique about this project compared to all the leader applications in automation: we cannot use artificial intelligence. So we have to use more conservative algorithms, which is also a challenge because that development time is much longer than if you would just have a machine learning platform.”

By the end of 2024, commercial operational testing and approval are to be achieved at the ZBA Munich-North. 

The 4D LiDAR technology leverages Aeva’s Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) technology and the world’s first LiDAR-on-chip module design.

The sensor is set apart from previous models as it detects the fourth dimension of instantaneous velocity for each point in addition to its 3D position.

Aeva global sales VP Barrs Lang highlights how this partnership will develop Railergy’s automatic train solution operations.

Lang said: “Railergy is an innovator in the transportation industry, and we are excited to support the development of their automatic train operation solution for customers, starting with one of Europe’s largest cargo train operators.

“We look forward to working closely with them to scale their solution using our commercially available Aeries II LiDAR technology to deliver safer and more efficient automated trains.”

The main features of the Aries II include 4D localisation and ultra resolution, and a camera-level image with up to 20 times the resolution of legacy LiDAR sensors.

Gartner added: “Aeva’s 4D LiDAR technology has been transformative in enabling safety for our automatic train operation solution. Aeva’s technology helps ensure that our solutions are on track to deliver a greener, more efficient rail industry through automation.”

Furthermore, Aeva’s FMCW 4D LiDAR technology will replace previous 3D LiDAR technologies that will improve the overall functioning capabilities.

The Railergy solution may also be applied in main line and last mile applications such as seaports, freight, and mining activities.

Railergy is further supported on the DB Cargo project, by Bachleitner Technology (safe computer platform and cameras), Applanix (GNSS/INS technology) and Systerel SAS (safety and approval support).

This article has been updated to remove two company names from the project. Ouster and ParkVi were part of the project but have since left.