German company ZF has unveiled an artificial intelligence (AI) based assistance system called ZF ProAI to help improve tram safety on networks by preventing collisions.

Initially designed to enable autonomous driving, the technology was demonstrated at InnoTrans 2018 and showcased its potential usage on rail vehicles.

The ZF ProAI central computer is capable of deep-learning, and can detect potential hazards and situations when people or other objects move around the vehicle.

The deployment of this AI-based technology is expected to significantly increase tram safety at stations and stops.

ZF automated operation off-highway project house head Lukas Hildebrand said: “Our automotive colleagues already tested the connection between environment sensors and ZF ProAI extensively.

“This supports us greatly in the development of intelligent off-highway systems. In cities, rail vehicles travel at about the same speed as automobiles. What’s more, they are subject to the same accident risks, especially due to pedestrians, cyclists and passenger cars.”

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By GlobalData
“In cities, rail vehicles travel at about the same speed as automobiles.”

According to the German Federal Statistical Office, nearly 1,300 injuries were reported in tram transport in 2016.

A significant number of incidents were caused due by the movement of pedestrians and motorists across the tram lines unaware of the warning signal.

ZF aims to eliminate these tram accidents with the urban rail passive assistance system.

The ZF ProAI, capable of processing deep learning algorithms, procures data from cameras, LIDAR and radars installed in the tram to develop a detailed image of the surroundings.

It can automatically identify any potential hazard and notifies the driver immediately.

Furthermore, it allows the driver to monitor the vehicle’s surroundings continuously up to a radius of 6m.