Bosch develops collision-avoidance system for light rail

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The system has been approved for use in public transportation by the German state of Hesse and is being fitted to trams in Frankfurt now(Credit: Bosch)

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Bosch has developed a collision-detection system that not only warns a driver of an impending crash, but that applies the brakes and disengages the throttle to avoid the collision. What's new about this system is that it's made for light rail and will be tested on trams in Germany.

Bosch Engineering adapted the tram system from its automotive technology, which has been in production for some time. Made for city rail transport, the system combines video, radar, and a rail control unit. The system has been approved for use in public transportation by the German state of Hesse. It is being fitted to trams in Frankfurt now.

The driver assistance systems being developed now, Bosch says, are the first step towards automated light rail. The systems are being engineered to work in all terrain, weather, and congestion scenarios.

The first tram system was introduced in 2014, but provided only warnings for the driver in the form of optical and sound (whistles and beeps). This new system takes it a step further by adding automated braking to slow and stop the tram to avoid the collision. It is made to detect cars, buses, other trams, and even static objects like buffer stops.

The system quickly determines distance and calculates the likelihood of collision based on variables such as speed. It can detect objects within a 70-degree field from the front of the tram.

If the system detects that an object is coming dangerously close, it gives the driver a visual and an acoustic warning. Should the tram driver not react to the warning signals within two seconds, the automated system slows the tram to a complete stop.

Unless an emergency requires it, the braking is not hard, preventing passengers from falling or feeling discomfort. The system can be overridden by the driver at any time.

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