German railway giant Deutsche Bahn is working on adding autonomous cars to its transport network as a way of getting riders to and from the train station — the last mile, so to speak. It's even looking at competing with companies like Uber in getting travelers around urban areas where a train might not be practical.
Speaking in an interview with German newspaper Wirtshafts Woche, Deutsche Bahn chief Rüdiger Grube said the railway "will, with certainty, operate driverless cars in the future." No timeline for the implementation of the technology was revealed, but Grube said it was "a big project" for Deutsche Bahn.
And the company is working on more than just self-driving cars. It also plans to automate the operation of the trains themselves. Rather than having a dispatcher instruct the engineer on where to take the train, the train could be controlled remotely, with a computer handling the nitty-gritty of actually operating the train. "In one or two decades, trains could be controlled from the operations center," Grube said, instead of by a driver on the train.
Automated subway systems are becoming more common around the world. Some systems allow fully automated operation, from operating the doors to detecting obstructions on the track and handling emergency situations. But a fully automated multi-modal transit system — from train to car — would be a first.
The quotes in this article were translated from German to English.