France-based Thales, in partnership with Montreal-based technology start-up One Silicon Chip Photonics (OSCP), is set to develop a new technology for autonomous trains.

Supported by the ENCQOR 5G programme, the partnership will focus on testing a high-performance optical inertial sensor system on an autonomous train platform.

Together they will create sensing and navigation capabilities that can be installed in semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles in urban and mainline rail settings.

They will develop an inertial measurement unit (IMU) prototype and test it on board the Thales Train Autonomy Platform.

Along with 5G competencies, the embedded IMU will enable Thales to track the autonomous train platform’s location even in complex regions where global navigation satellite systems cannot work adequately.

Thales research and innovation vice-president Walter Kinio said: “The partnership with Thales and OSCP will allow autonomous rail technologies to be further enhanced, enabling smarter, safer, greener and more advanced systems to be developed here in Canada.

“We are delighted to partner with OSCP on this exciting project, and Thales will continue to be a strong supporter of the ENCQOR programme.”

The IMU system will be tried in a field environment over the upcoming nine months.

The project will be showcased at the York-Durham Heritage Railway test site in Uxbridge, Ontario.

This will approve the capacity of the system to offer an accurate position when incorporated on a rail vehicle.

OSCP CEO Kazem Zandi said: “Our proprietary Photonics Integrated Circuits (PIC)-based IMU technology will be demonstrated on a Thales platform as a more accurate lower-cost alternative to existing market solutions.”

Thales is among the five global technology leaders of ENCQOR, providing opportunities for small to medium-sized entities to display their innovations and 5G technologies.

Earlier this month, Hitachi Rail announced that it was ready to enter exclusive negotiations to acquire Thales’ Ground Transportation Systems (GTS) Global Business Unit for around $2bn (€1.66bn).