France’s SNCF plans world’s first autonomous high-speed trains

French state railway operator SNCF has announced that it plans to test autonomous "drone trains" by 2019, with the aim of bringing them into public services in 2023.

The TGVs will be trialled on goods services. Initially, a driver will control the train remotely and staff will be on board to take the controls if anything goes awry, however the long-term goal is for trains to run autonomously, which SNCF President Guillaume Pepy says would be a world first.

If France’s rail line becomes fully autonomous, it will increase the number of trains the infrastructure can support, and may allow a 25% increase in some high-speed lines, such as the one between Paris and Lyon by 25%.

FranceInfo says a team of 10 are working on the project, and that SNCF is working in collaboration with other researchers and firms such as rail giant Alstom.

Image: An SNCF train at Paris Gare du Nord (Wikimedia Commons/Phil Scott)

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