Rauten stehen symbolhaft für die Digitalisierung der Schiene

Sensors4Rail brings more capacity to the railways

Modern sensor technology on the train enables precise localisation and perception of the surroundings

Sensors have everything in view. The Sensors4Rail project provides trains with precise information about their surroundings and exact position. A high-precision digital HD map and modern satellite technology are used to determine the position of vehicles with centimetre accuracy. The train locates itself with the help of landmarks such as overhead cable poles, platform edges and other prominent objects in the railway environment. The landmarks detected during the perception of surroundings are compared with the landmarks stored in the HD map and the positions located using the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and vehicle geometry. The map thus becomes a ‘digital twin’ of the rail and its immediate surroundings.

The advantages of Sensors4Rail

Sensor-based environmental perception also helps the system recognise and classify obstacles and objects in the track area. These can be precisely added to the HD map so the control centre can react faster and more precisely in future. In addition, this technology plays a decisive role in increasing capacity. The State-of-the-art sensors provide precise information about the train's surroundings and exact position. Based on this data, trains can be optimally controlled in the future and, for example, run at shorter intervals, which would bring more capacity to the railways.

A challenge particular to rail when compared to the road is the long braking distance. Sensor technologies used in the project are designed for long-distance ranges to ensure early vehicle reaction

Faster, digitally, together

To make digitalisation a reality, innovative technologies from different sectors are needed. This is one of our main tasks at Digital Rail: to quickly integrate these technologies into the railway system together with our partners.

  • Deutsche Bahn is responsible for project management, vehicle engineering, approval and safety, and provides vehicles and infrastructure.
  • Siemens Mobility supports vehicle integration, is responsible for the system tests and the location of the train front position through a modern odometry unit that integrates the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), vehicle odometry and positions of landmarks.
  • The partners Bosch Engineering (radar, infrared long-range, mid-range and stereo camera) and Ibeo Automotive Systems (Lidar sensors) are responsible for realising environmental perception and object detection.
  • HERE Technologies provides the 3D HD map for centimetre-accurate location of the train on the integrated DB track topography.

Sensors4Rail: When will sensor technology start being used?

The installation of the new technologies is already underway. In October 2020, an S-Bahn Hamburg train was equipped with a camera system, radar, Lidar and GNSS. The first test runs begin in spring 2021 . The results will be presented during special runs along the 23km route of the S21 line between Hamburg-Berliner Tor and Bergedorf at Hamburg’s Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress 2021. Live animation on video screens in the converted train, and simultaneous live transmission on terminals at the ITS exhibition centre, are planned.


Find out more about Sensors4Rail at the ITS World Congress 2021.