Driving towards a digital future

08 May 2019 | by Dr Harry Hondius

Siemens Mobility plans to focus on aspects of digitalisation at the forthcoming UITP Summit in Stockholm, presenting three key streams ahead of the event.

Using the slogan ‘Mobility Made Easy’, Siemens Mobility has embarked on a global strategy to harness digital technologies to provide seamless transport by a variety of modes. Presenting the highlights of its plans for this year’s UITP Global Public Transport Summit during a visit to Wien last month, the company emphasised its investment in firms specialising in transport planning, ticketing and information.

These include HaCon, which provides the HAFAS timetabling and planning software, now branded as a Mobility Ecosystem. The Hannover-based company employs 370 IT and transport planning specialists covering many aspects of intelligent transport systems. Siemens has also invested in Eos-Uptrade, which provides online sales systems and ticketing solutions for public transport operators throughout Europe notably those in Hamburg, Berlin, München and Wien. Meanwhile New York-based Bytemark, Inc works with 20 public transport agencies around the world offering mobile ticketing. Padam Mobility of Paris provides demand-responsive transport-as-a-service.

As an example of co-operation projects, Siemens says it has worked with Bytemark to provide a common payment solution for the smart travel app in Columbus, Ohio, and with HaCon to provide the BART Trip Planner in San Francisco. Siemens is now working closely with transport authorities in Luxembourg to deliver a ‘complete mobility app’ to support the country’s free public transport initiative that comes into operation from March 2020.

Autonomous operation

Digitalisation will also play a role in the operation of urban transport services, with Siemens Mobility working on autonomous operation for trams and electric buses.

During InnoTrans 2018 Siemens and ViP demonstrated autonomous driving with a modified Combino tram on a 6 km route in Potsdam. Their view is that if all traffic is operating autonomously at some point in the future, trams would have to be part of it. In the short term, the company says the driverless technologies will be perfected for shunting within the depot, before being introduced more widely.

Meanwhile, June 6 will see the launch of an autonomous electric bus shuttle in the new Wien suburb of Seestadt Aspern, providing ‘last mile’ connectivity to and from Seestadt station on metro Line U2. Siemens Austria and vehicle manufacturer Navya are partners in the project consortium along with local operator Wiener Linien, AIT, KFV and TÜV Austria.

Under the €1·5m project, two Navya shuttles will run for a year on a 2 km route serving five stops, at a maximum speed of 20 km/h, and there will be a trained attendant on board to supervise. The 4·75 m long 10-seat vehicles are powered by a 15 kW motor, which is fed from a 16 kWh battery that will enable it to operate for up to 9 h. Charging from a 16 A 220 V AC supply is expected to take 4 h to 8 h.

Siemens is supplying its C2X (car-to-X) technology which enables the autonomous buses to interact with the roadways and surrounding infrastructure. The vehicles are fitted with a range of sensors and GPS, while at key road crossings four fixed cameras are provided to relay video images to the onboard computer.

Easy Spares digitised

Siemens Mobility is also promoting its ‘Easy Spares’ digital supply chain concept. Back in 2000, the company introduced a programme enabling its rail vehicle customers to order parts for delivery within 24 h. This concept has been enhanced by an app with photo matching for component identification, allowing defective items such as door knobs, seat covers or windows to be identified and ordered in 3 min to ensure the 24 h delivery times.

Once photographed, the item is checked in Siemens Mobility’s cloud-based CAD database, and experience suggests that around 90% of the parts can be identified within 10 sec. The functionality is already available for the Avenio and Neoval platforms, whose components were designed using 3D CAD systems, and will be extended to future vehicle platforms.

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