Within the framework of the international transport exhibition InnoTrans 2018, Siemens held a presentation of the work of its unmanned tram Combino. The test track was the streets of the city of Potsdam in East Germany, where the new robot moved in real city traffic. They decided not to bother the residents of the city, so even though the tram made stops in the proper places, it did not pick up passengers.
The passengers were played by company representatives and journalists, one of whom was Keith Conolly of The Guardian. She was particularly impressed with how the drone reacted to a rigged dangerous situation when a Siemens employee deliberately rolled out a stroller on the way. The tram instantly activated the braking system and did not turn off the alarm until it came to a complete stop. And when the obstacle was removed from the tracks, he transmitted data about the situation to the human operator and asked for approval to continue the movement. He does not yet have complete freedom of action.
During the tests, the robotic tram drove out of the depot and made a 6-kilometer loop through Potsdam. For orientation, he used lidars, radars, high-resolution cameras and data from the city's transportation system. One of the main objectives of this demonstration was to show that when driving vehicles with such limited maneuverability as a tram, there is practically no difference between a human driver and an AI. Therefore, the drone is trained on the routes of conventional trams.
The development of algorithms for recognizing difficult situations and reacting to them was entrusted to scientists from the University of Karlsruhe. And so far they do not have any fundamental problems - on the contrary, the project is developing so successfully that the idea of the imminent appearance of a commercial version of the drone was announced at the exhibition.