In Potsdam Germany, Siemens is putting there autonomous driving technology on German roadways, but with one major limitation. The self-driving technology will operate on railcars, thereby significantly limiting the number of options the algorithm must sort through. By reducing the complexity of the decision making, Siemens looks to improve its driverless technology through the trial period. Siemens would like their railcars to behave more human, i.e. slow down cautiously when a potential collision is ahead instead of slamming on the breaks. While the difference between these two actions may seem insignificant, the difference is noticeable in its effect on the transit system schedule. While many are excited by the prospects of bringing more effective autonomous driving to consumer vehicles, the Federal Railroad Administration wants to see some these technologies implemented in the United States. 

Will U.S. Trains Go Autonomous?

While some cities around the United States are looking to adopt fully autonomous systems, the Federal Railroad Administration has pushed for all trains to equip accident prevention technologies but steep price tags in developing technologies has stalled this progress. Rail operator collisions with pedestrians, vehicles or other rail operators are often fatal or cause catastrophic life changing injuries for those involved. Introducing technologies that help operators save lives and reduce train accident rates should be universally adopted yet most trains will not be equipped with these technologies until 2020. Regardless of accident prevention tools, pedestrians and drivers alike should always use caution when approaching an active railway.