A consortium led by Siemens Mobility has planned to take up a fully automated tram depot research project in Potsdam, Germany.

The consortium consists of Verkehrsbetrieb Potsdam (ViP), the Institute for Climate Protection, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Codewerk GmbH, Energy and Mobility (IKEM) and Mapillary.

Named AStriD (Autonomous Tram in Depot), the project is funded by Federal Ministry for Transportation and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) under its ‘Modernity Fund’ (mFUND) research initiative.

The three-year project will commence in October. The research and development of the project will take place at Verkehrsbetrieb Potsdam depot.

The project aims to develop a digital depot that is based on the autonomous tram operation.

The technical feasibility of the project will be showcased by conducting autonomous service operations in the depot.

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The consortium member are looking to make depot automation commercially feasible over the medium term.

The project development will study the legal framework conditions for approval and operation.

The work is divided into separate packages. Siemens Mobility will develop the automated tram technology and integrate the vehicle into a data hub provided by Codewerk.

ViP will be responsible for providing the infrastructure for the depot and trams. Additionally, it will provide access to required data, systems and facilities and will evaluate the results from the perspective of an operator.

Mapillary will develop a digital map for vehicle localisation. It will use a cloud-based platform to collect and analyse the images and information that will then be processed by AI.

Institute for Information Processing Technology at KIT will work in the process automation and specification and digitalisation of depots.

Energy & Mobility and the Institute for Climate Protection will be responsible for the assessment of legal issues regarding driverless operation and impact on operating costs.

Siemens Mobility CEO Sabrina Soussan said: “AStriD is the next big milestone on the way to autonomous trams.

“By automating time-consuming shunting operations in the depot, we want to better support our customers in ensuring sustainable value creation over the entire lifecycle, as well as guaranteeing availability.”