Autonomous vehicles come in many different forms, shapes, and sizes. Over in France, the current plan is to introduce autonomous high-speed trains by 2023. This is a new proposal by the national state-owned railway company SNCF. It is quite the challenge to develop and deploy these trains in just six years from now, though. The company feels they can make it work, with trials scheduled to begin as early as 2019.

High-speed Autonomous Trains are Coming to France

It is only a matter of time until the public transportation system as we know it will undergo some big changes. Autonomous vehicles can be of great value in this regard over the coming months. In fact, the French national state-owned railway company feels now is a good time to start focusing on the development of autonomous high-speed trains. If all things go according to plan, these trains should enter their first testing phase by 2019.

What is rather interesting is how these autonomous trains will operate along the existing TGV lines. It is good to see engineers think along these lines, as it means no new infrastructure will need to be introduced for the time being. It is still possible we will see dedicated autonomous high-speed train tracks in the future, though. Moreover, the existing TGV tracks will need to undergo some minor modifications, which is to be expected.

These modifications will allow the autonomous trains to gather data from external sensors. Should an obstacle come along the way, the train will initiate an auto-braking procedure. Do keep in mind these systems will not only be used to transport passengers from point A to point B, though. The company is especially hopeful this autonomous system will aid in ordering and hooking up different cars of the train itself. Additionally, this new technology should allow for running more trains on the same lines.

Testing of these new features will commence in 2019, with the first autonomous high-speed being publicly deployed by 2023. For the time being, these trains will run between the capital city of Paris and a few locations across the southeast of France. There will be conductors on board to oversee everything and see if all fail safes are triggered correctly. Being overly cautious is never a bad thing when you are dealing with autonomous high-speed vehicles.

It is quite interesting to note France is not the only country working toward autonomous trains. The United Kingdom aims to automate parts of its rail service in the coming years as well, even though the region is a bit behind the curve in terms of technological development. Then again, the UK’s railway system is vastly more complex compared to the one in France. It will be interesting to see what type of solutions both nations come up with in the future, though.

What is rather remarkable is how the French government is not opposing the concept of autonomous high-speed trains. Most regions around the world are not so open-minded when it comes to these innovative technologies. Then again, it is possible we will see more regulatory measures being introduced once the testing phase of these autonomous trains begins.

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