(Yicai Global) Jan. 15 -- State-owned railroad operator China Railway Corp. will focus efforts on developing autonomous driving on high-speed trains as part of a major shift in the industry toward smart technologies and artificial intelligence, the company's General Manager Lu Dongfu said at a recent annual work conference.
The Beijing-based train giant, also known as CR, aims to showcase self-driving systems on its under-construction railway lines from Beijing to 2022 Winter Olympics host city Zhangjiakou and neighboring new economic area Xiong'an, which are set for completion next year.
CR will also introduce intelligence systems for power supply and scheduling for trains, as well as smarter services in train stations to make passenger experiences more convenient.
The under-development intelligent power supply system will feature a health assessment module, able to detect power failures, issue early warnings and restore power supply by itself, said He Huawu, chief engineer at the company.
CR plans to use AI in a new train scheduling and dispatching system to optimize the efficiency of operations and increase passenger satisfaction.
New smart systems at railway stations will include electronic ticketing, facial-recognition-based check-in capabilities and fare collection, as well as seamless Wi-Fi roaming, station navigation, and personalized accessibility services for the disabled.
Intelligent technologies will be a key feature of high-speed rail development in China, as well as the world going forward, said Professor Sun Zhang from the Railway and Urban Rail Transit Research Institute at Tongji University.
Smart technology development remains in its infancy, though Chinese companies have made progress in certain areas including facial recognition and mobile payment services. There still remains several technical issues related directly to railway construction and operations that need to be tackled, while the sector also suffers from a shortage of qualified technicians and engineers.