Autonomous Trains Technology Market – Snapshot

Autonomous trains have some degree of automation such as automatic train protection (ATP) and automatic train operation (ATO). Autonomous trains have different levels of automation. Basic level of train automation comprises ATP, ATO, and automatic train cruising and stopping. While the higher levels of train automation encompass driverless and unattended train operations. Fully autonomous trains are in the testing phase, similar to autonomous cars. However, there are a few trains that are completely autonomous and operational. Autonomous trains are proving to be an effective and economic mode of transport, as trains emit low pollutants, are capable of transporting heavy loads, and take less time to cover long distances.

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Autonomous trains take considerably less time to cover long distances, as they contain train to train and train to server communication, which enables the trains to measure exact distance between the trains. Therefore, the safe distance between two trains running on the same track can be reduced effectively, which in turn shortens the travel time. This factor is primarily driving the Autonomous Trains Technology Market, coupled with enhanced passenger and train safety by eliminating the accident causing factors across the train track. In February 2018, at South Carolina, U.S., a passenger train crashed with a freight train, resulting in two fatalities and 116 serious injuries. According to specialists, the crash could have been avoided by the incorporation of automation technologies such as PTC (Positive Train Control). Several train accidents occur, annually, owing to the derailment of the train, which can be avoided by the implementation of autonomous technologies such as CBTC (Communication Based Train Control), ERTMS (European Railway Traffic Management System), ATC (Automatic Train Control), and PTC (Positive Train Control). These technologies have proven to be reliable and precise in order to avoid train accidents. Rising concerns about passenger safety is fueling the Autonomous Trains Technology Market. However, the significant cost required to build infrastructure and manufacture components is primarily restraining the Autonomous Trains Technology Market.

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Development of advanced electronic components, continuous research and development in order to introduce advanced technologies, introduction of less costly and accurate LiDAR technologies and fusion sensors, and increased investment in the field of autonomous technologies are likely to offer lucrative opportunities for the Autonomous Trains Technology Market.

Grade of automation (GoA) level 1 and 2 have highest penetration amongst all the levels. Low cost required to upgrade trains up to this level of automation is driving the demand for GoA1 and GoA2 levels. Increased concern about passenger safety, enhanced government focus on secure and well-managed railway transport, and reduced time with automation are fueling the demand for GoA1 and GoA2 levels. Consequently, the segments are expected to hold a major share of the market during the forecast period. Metro trains are witnessing adoption of autonomous technology at a rapid pace. Metros are a highly rapid mode of transport with a significant application in urban passenger transportation. Considerable rise in urbanization, increase in number of passengers, and need of connectivity are fueling the demand for metros and other high speed trains such as bullet trains. Governing bodies are promoting the adoption of automation in metros and high speed trains for safe and accurate running of trains. Suburban trains are the most preferred mode of transport that connects urban areas with nearby rural and sub-urban areas. The number of passengers using suburban trains is increasing rapidly, which in turn is boosting the demand for automation through suburban trains.

A completely or partially autonomous train requires different components in order to perform its automated operations. Sensors are vital among those components that are needed to automate the train. In terms of revenue, LiDAR modules and optical sensors segments dominated the Autonomous Trains Technology Market, as the cost of LiDAR module is high and the number of optical and camera sensors required is high. However, the cost of LiDAR module is expected to drop significantly during the forecast period; however, its market size, in terms of revenue, is projected to expand at a CAGR of more than 5% during the forecast period.

A precise train traffic management system is necessary in order to manage smooth, accurate, and safe running of the autonomous trains as well as normal trains. Several railway traffic management systems have been developed; however, very few of them have proven to be highly effective. Adoption of these technologies varies according to the region. North America has adopted the Positive Train Control technology (PTC) as standard and is mandated to equip all train tracks across North America until December 31, 2018. The European Union has implemented the European Railway Traffic Management System (ERTMS) across Europe. ERTMS is witnessing demand outside Europe too. China and several countries in GCC and the Pacific have adopted ERTMS for their train tracks.

China and Japan are witnessing a considerable demand for train automation. Asia Pacific accounts for a prominent share of the global Autonomous Trains Technology Market, owing to large number of high speed and automated trains in China, Japan, and Pacific countries. The government of China is focusing on the development of new high speed train tracks and most of them are planned to be automated. India has started its first driverless train in its capital Delhi and is expected to demand for more number of autonomous trains. Consequently, Asia Pacific is expected to maintain its leading position in the global market during the forecast period.

Enhanced government support for train automation, increase in adoption of automation level, and development of advanced technologies offer several opportunities for companies operating in the Autonomous Trains Technology Market. Key players operating in the global Autonomous Trains Technology Market include Thales Group, Alstom S.A., Bombardier Transportation Hitachi Ltd., CRRC Corporation limited, Ansaldo STS, SIEMENS AG, and Mitsubishi Electric. France-based Alstom S.A. is developing an automated freight train in the Netherlands. The automated train is expected to be tested in the second quarter of 2018.

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