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Aerospace engineers are developing autonomous trucks for rail

For many years, politicians have been trying to shift more goods transport to rail. So far, however, neither Germany nor the United States has been able to achieve this in the long term. The main reason for this is probably the fact that trucks can be used much more flexibly. Even if freight trains or ships are used, these can often only head for central hubs. The final transport still has to take place on the road. However, a few technological innovations could soon provide a remedy. In Europe, for example, work is currently underway to introduce a digital clutch. This should enable individual freight cars to be coupled together much more quickly in the future. This increases the flexibility of the freight trains because individual transports can also be handled more quickly and efficiently. In the United States, on the other hand, former Space X engineers are working on small and autonomous train units.

Image: Parallel Systems

The range of the battery is around eight hundred kilometers

However, the new vehicle no longer has much in common with a classic locomotive. Instead, it is a kind of platform on wheels. A goods container can be placed on each of these. The maximum weight of the load is 58,000 kilograms – twice that of a classic semitrailer. The goods are then to be transported completely autonomously and electrically. However, this new type of train cannot establish a connection to the overhead line. Instead, a battery was integrated, which should theoretically guarantee a range of up to eight hundred kilometers. In reality, however, this value has not yet been confirmed. The prototype produced was only tested over a distance of eighty kilometers. The efficiency of the new transport technology can also be increased if different platforms are connected in series. In theory, however, each container can also go to its destination individually.

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Investors have provided fifty million dollars

The big advantage is that smaller railway lines and stations can also be used in this way. Ideally, the containers can be brought much closer to their final destination by rail. The declared goal of the developers is actually to reduce the number of truck transports. The idea seems to be well received by investors. The initiators of the project have already collected around 50 million euros. The money is now to be used primarily to turn the existing prototype into a market-ready product. So far, it has been difficult to estimate whether the approach will actually become widespread. At least it is a fairly innovative idea. Car manufacturers such as Tesla, Volkswagen or Daimler are somewhat more traditional. They are working on equipping the classic truck with an electric drive and autonomous driving functions.

Via: Electrek

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