Deutsche Bahn is investing in new artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics technologies to support the maintenance of its growing ICE fleet.
The company will be investing €55 million in the new technologies, and are expected to revolutionize the way that ICE trains are inspected and serviced.
One of the key technologies that DB is investing in is E-Check. E-Check is a new system that uses cameras and mobile underfloor devices to thoroughly inspect ICE vehicles with AI then analysing the recordings. It will then monitor any deviations from the target condition.
E-Check can detect small inconsistencies such as a loose screw, as well as more significant issues such as an area in need of repair. It can also identify blemishes such as damaged pictograms on the outside of the train. The technology also increases efficiency with testing showing a 374-meter XXL ICE with 13 cars can be inspected by the camera system in just 5 minutes.
This is significantly faster than the time it takes for humans to complete a manual inspection.
Dr. Michael Peterson, DB board member for long-distance passenger transport said: “By using digital technology, we are revolutionising the maintenance of ICE trains. Thanks to E-Check, we can virtually create the capacity of an entire ICE factory.
“This means that the trains will be back in service for our passengers more quickly. With E-Check we are also facing the challenges of a growing fleet and the increasing shortage of skilled workers.”
Dr. Volker Wissing, federal minister for Digital and Transport said: “This project shows the power that lies in the combination of digital technology and human expertise: employees are relieved and at the same time the maintenance capacity of the site increases by 25 percent.
“In view of our rapidly growing ICE fleet, this is absolutely necessary. I am convinced that we as a society can only achieve our ambitious goals if we use innovative technologies on a large scale instead of thinking up reasons not to.”
In addition to E-Check, DB is also investing in ‘cobots’ to pump wastewater out of the vehicles and supply them with fresh water. Cobots are fully automated robots that can recognize the position of the connections on different types of trains. The cobots will move along the ICE and attach the appropriate connection. Once wither the disposal or supply are finished, the cobot removes the nozzles and moves to the next carriage.
The use of AI and robotics in the maintenance of ICE trains is expected to have a number of benefits including improving the efficiency of the process and improve effectiveness.
DB also believe that the use of AI and robotics will free up the work force to concentrate on more complex tasks and improve safety across its fleet of ICE trains.
The investment in AI and robotics is part of DB's broader strategy to modernise its fleet and operations and also reinforce its commitment to sustainability as it aims to cut its Co2 emissions by 80% by 2050.
Photo Credit: DB