Japanese Railways conducted the first tests of an autonomous train in Niigata Prefecture. The successful trial opens the way to a future in which trains without drivers will run on the Japanese islands.
According to Kyodo News, East Japan Railway Co. invited journalists to observe the event. The idea of autonomous trains took its origin from the problems of the shortage of staff to become drivers.
Shinkansen made a mistake by 8 centimeters
During the test, the 12-car missile train ran without any human intervention from the moment the driver switched it to automatic mode. In this mode, the E7 series train was remotely piloted from the control center. After driving about 5 kilometers from Niigata station and approaching the target maximum speed of 110 km per hour, the train stopped at Niigata Shinkansen station.
Interestingly, this unusual train has passed its intended break point by 8 centimeters. Fortunately, this distance was within the acceptable margin of 50 cm of error. This in turn means that the trial, in which the invited journalists from the Japanese media also participated, was a complete success.
The future of trains is without drivers?
Although the train test was considered a success, it will be some time before Japanese railways decide to introduce autonomous trains for regular journeys. For these kinds of vehicles, it is necessary not only to control the train, but also to remotely monitor the tracks and interior of the trains to ensure passenger safety.
Sooner or later, however, it will come to pass, as confirmed by East Japan Railway Co. The company said the final decision on when to fully implement the autonomous driving system will finally be made. Until then, further trials will be carried out.