LiDAR Assists Rail Logistics

| Transport

4D LiDAR sensor technology is being used to enhance rail logistic operations for driverless shunting and freight delivery

Sensor supplier Aeva, has taken the next step into the development of “perception systems” to enable greater autonomy in transport and is actively progressing the development and testing of such sensing systems in transport applications, including the rail sector.

As part of this activity, German railway system automation system supplier, Railergy, has selected Aeva’s Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) 4D LiDAR technology to provide the mechanism for the company’s latest automatic train operation system. Aeva’s Aeries II sensors provide critical instant velocity data and high-resolution sensing capability enabling the automation system to identify obstacles that would otherwise prevent the safe passage of autonomous locomotives.

According to Jakob Gärtner, Founder at Railergy , the 4D LiDAR technology supplied by Aeva has been transformative in enabling safety for the company’s automatic train operation system. “Aeva’s technology helps ensure that our products are on track to deliver a greener, more efficient rail industry through automation,” says Gärtner.

Shunting Applications

The product being offered by Railergy solution has the specific application of automating the operation of trains for performing shunting duties, where trains are separated and the individual components moved around and then linked together in different configurations or with new wagons or coaches. Being autonomous allows the locomotive to operate safely without a driver or via remote control. In addition to this, the autonomous control system could also be used in other applications in the future to include main line operations and “last mile” applications, where automation can take over from standard control methods in such places as seaports or at freight terminals and within mining operations.

Railergy says that it chose to select the 4D LiDAR product from Aeva for its unique ability to simultaneously detect precise range and the velocity of small obstacles on and around the rails.

Aeva’s instant velocity data enables the real-time segmentation of moving and non-moving objects. This velocity data also powers Aeva’s Ultra Resolution perception capabilities which provide higher resolution than conventional time of flight LiDAR sensors. Together, these features enable Railergy to meet use case requirements that could not be achieved using conventional LiDAR.

The instant velocity data is a distinguishing feature of 4D LiDAR. Conventional LiDAR maps a 3D plot of detected points to create a static map of the field within the range of the sensor. The velocity data adds an additional component providing speed and direction of each point to enable more precise predictions of position and thereby giving a more dynamic assessment for moving objects.

Barrs Lang, Vice President of Global Sales at Aeva considers Railergy to be an innovator in the rail industry and Aeva is happy to be in a position to support the development of the company’s automatic train operation system for its customers, starting with one of Europe’s largest freight train operators.

“We look forward to working closely with Railergy to increase the scale of its system using our commercially available Aeries II LiDAR technology to deliver safer and more efficient automated trains,” he concludes

Jonathan Newell
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