There are several intelligent systems that enable a subway to run without a driver. Sensors and components in the subway communicate with digital objects on the ground, such as balisides passing by. As the subway moves along its route, these systems constantly communicate with each other to ensure everything runs smoothly.
How does a subway know where to go?
The movement of driverless subways like Sydney is managed by a central command center according to the subway's movement plan. This control center is digitally connected to the metro line's track-edge locking system (one of the smart objects along the tracks) and prompts it to open a path for the metro.
The locking system then checks to verify that this particular route has not been assigned to any other vehicle, and then sets all waypoints along that route to create the route. Once everything is confirmed, the system sends a signal to the subway that it is free to travel safely along the outlined path.
Once the journey is started, the smart system in the subway tells it when to move forward, when to accelerate or brake without the driver, allowing it to move across the entire network.
How does the subway know how fast to go?
Among the smart objects lined up on the ground are markers positioned along rails that allow the driverless subway to independently determine its location within the network. Because the subway already knows where it is and where it's going, it also knows curves and inclines, and can determine how fast it needs to go and where to brake to get to the right spot on the platform. Since there's no driver, it's the control center that tells you if you need to speed up a little more or less to get to the subway just in time.
How does the subway know if there is another subway in front of it?
All automated and driverless subways are located in real time, thanks to markers positioned along the rails. The location of the subway is then sent to the smart system on the ground, which shares this information with other subways so they know where each other is. But that's not all, each subway also reports its location to the control center, so operators can see where all subways are at any given moment and manage traffic along the entire line from their comfortable seats.
Driverless subway operations are managed from a central command center using technologies such as our Fluence/Urbalis mobile block system.
How does the subway know which stops to stop?
The control center gives the subway its destination and tells it where to go and at which stations it should stop. The driverless metro can follow the route given to it by following only the designated routes set for it.
How does the subway manage to place itself in front of automatic doors if it does not have a driver?
Like location and speed, beacons are responsible for showing the subway exactly how to position itself at the station to open the doors at the right time and in the right place. Thanks to them, the subway knows how to stop right in front of the platform doors.
Who opens the subway doors?
The smart system in the subway takes care of this. Only when the automatic subway is correctly stopped on the platform, directly in front of the platform doors, the system can open the subway and platform doors simultaneously to allow passengers to enter and exit the subway. The same system also ensures that the subway cannot exit when the doors are open.
Who takes control if something happens?
In driverless or automated subways, the control center always has a human operator who is on board the supervisor. The operator can always intervene and take over control in case of a malfunction of the metro. The control room operator can also use the subway's intercom systems to talk to passengers and provide instructions or updates.
Is it really a secure system?
Yes, automated subway systems are safe. They actually increase security as they limit the risk of human error.
How do you ensure that automated subway systems do not make mistakes?
All on-board and roadside systems are operated by special computers and ensure that the calculations and information they transmit through verification procedures are free of errors. This ensures that there are no accidents!
What are the advantages of using the automatic subway?
Automating subways improves the regularity and punctuality of subways by allowing the line to carry more vehicles and passengers. Normally, every subway driver accelerates and brakes slightly differently, so metros with drivers don't take the same amount of time to make the exact same journey, meaning that traffic will never really be consistent. But fortunately, computers have no personality or individual behavior, so when they're in charge, every subway goes the same on every ride. This may sound boring, but it makes subways more accurate, efficient and more sustainable in terms of energy use.
Driverless subways can also run consistently while maintaining the highest allowed speed, which improves overall performance, the number of subways that can run per hour and therefore the number of passengers that can board the plane – so you don't have to wait.
Are there any new innovations that further enhance automated metropolises?
Yes, there are two new innovations to be presented below.
The first innovation is a super smart system in the subway.
Today, there's a new built-in subway system that's even smarter. It no longer needs to coordinate with objects on the rails and instead speaks directly to other metropolises. Therefore, it can make safer decisions faster.
The second innovation is that metropolises communicate with each other.
We now have metropolises communicating directly with each other to change positions. Therefore, they can be closer to each other, the latter automatically adapting to the position of the subway in front. Each subway is therefore more autonomous than a manual system and can more easily adapt to unfortunate situations. If a subway breaks down and blocks the two subways behind it, the subway in the center will be able to regress at the same time in coordination with the subway behind it and drop off passengers at the previous station. This prevents a subway (and passengers!) from getting stuck between two stations.