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MrGrimm888's avatar

Can someone please explain to me how self-driving Container Trucks, came before self-driving trains?

Asked by MrGrimm888 (16914points) July 7th, 2018

This doesn’t make sense, to me.

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6 Answers

Yellowdog's avatar

Because it takes much more skill to drive a train on top of those narrow steel rails :).

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Driverless subway and shuttle trains have existed for decades. The first I remember riding was the Denver airport train in the 1990s. That’s obviously a simple scenario, they are on closed circuits without any other vehicles or pedestrians.

As for freight trains, I googled, and they are in the works, but it seems with much less activity than with trucks.

Maybe the labor savings is limited? Trains are not numerous compared to trucks.

Also the opportunities for wrecking are fewer. There are controllers watching the traffic and working switches to prevent collisions.

Popular Mechanics – Oct 2, 2017 – Self-Driving Freight Trains Are Now Traveling the Rails Without a Human on Board
Australian mining company Rio Tinto has been running trains in autonomous mode since the beginning of 2017, and as early as July, it said that around 20 percent of train runs were being completed autonomously. But all of these trains had drivers aboard as a failsafe, until now. For this most recent trip, the train completed an entire leg of the journey without a human onboard at all.

ragingloli's avatar

A train derailing, because of its sheer mass and momentum, would be much more of a catastrophe than a mere lorry plowing over a group of school children.
The loss of material and products transported by a container train simply dwarfs the puddle of preteen flesh and guts splayed atop the trees.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I work in downtown Charleston SC sometimes. The city was made before long tractor trailers. It’s not really made for cars.
It’s not uncommon for you to see a truck driver struggling with a sharp turn, down a one way street, with almost no room to get the truck through. I was watching a poor bastard the other day, try to make an impossible turn. He was stuck. The people around him did him no favors, as they tried to drive around, and fussed. I couldn’t help thinking what a computer driver would do….

But a train just needs to follow a track, that has set speeds. How has this not been 100% integrated into trains, but is working with trucks?

Good points Jay. Especially about the sheer numbers thing. I just don’t get how computers will handle all the variables involving human traffic, without first mastering rails….

kritiper's avatar

You steer a truck, you don’t steer a train.

LostInParadise's avatar

The cost advantage is not that great for driverless trains. A small passenger train carries at least 3 cars and a large freight train can carry over 100. The cost of paying the driver is relatively small.

The extent of the damage that can be done is considerable.

It takes longer to bring a train to a halt than a truck, which makes more critical the decision by the computer to change speed.

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