The modern transport systems cannot do without human participation in their control. Cars', airplanes' and even trains' оwn “brains” are not sufficiently developed to trust them by one hundred percent yet. Nevertheless, automatic control systems are one of the main trends in the transport sector, which was confirmed by the recently held exhibition InnoTrans. There were a great number of digital solutions for traditional transport presented at the exhibition.
SkyWay project did not stay aside from the automation trend either: The possibility to control traffic, based on the readings from sensors using artificial intelligence, was initially designed in the SkyWay transport systems. The SkyWay’s intelligent control system has a significant feature that distinguishes it from competitors: it combines a large intellectual complex that will not only control the motion of transport modules, but will also collect the required data about the technical condition of the units, interact with the passenger and perform a variety of other functions that are mostly assigned to people in conventional transport.
Eyes and ears
A vehicle, like a person, needs information about the situation around it to make decisions. In SkyWay transport modules, special sensors and detectors of several types will be dealing with the collection of such data. The information from them is collected non-stop and sent to the control center, where routing tasks are made up and adjusted. Furthermore, the transport module is able to make particular decisions independently; only the most general instructions come from the central control point, specifying where and at what time the module should be.
To control the traffic, the rolling stock is equipped with a combination of cameras and radars, which allows to determine more than 90 different types of objects and their parameters in the motion: speed and distance to an object. The combination of ”radar + camera” was chosen by the SkyWay engineers intentionally: such a combination allows to recognize obstacles in inclement weather conditions and at the same time does not require such large expenses as the lidar.
The principle of this complex operation is easier to explain in context: for example, a drone is approaching a moving unibus. Its image, as well as the data on its speed and position in space is transmitted to the on-board computer. According to the data from the camera, the machine vision algorithm identifies that this is exactly a drone, and the data from the radar allows to calculate the speed with which the unibus needs to move to avoid a collision. The control system instantly makes conclusions and transmits the data “to the wheels”: the system forms and sends commands for the specific machine units. After the on-board system has solved the problem, the data about the speed and position of the module is sent to the control center, and the adjusted routing task comes back.
The rout changes that are needed for traffic safety and accurate following-up the schedule, can also be entered on the basis of the sensor readings mounted on the infrastructure. The data from the cameras and sensors goes directly to the control center, and from there, already converted into routing task adjustments, to all modules, which are moving on difficult track sections. Special attention is paid to potentially dangerous sections, as well as to stations: additional cameras and more accurate sensors will be positioned there.
Several methods are used at once for determining the position of the rolling stock on the track structure: radio-frequency identification tags, GPS and magnetic sensors. The latter are used if increased positioning accuracy is needed: for example, when stopping at a station.
By the way, the described above technologies have already passed its “baptism of fire”: the computer did not need any manual adjustments at the EcoFest during the whole day of the operation in the automatic mode.
Without a visit to the depot
The sensors in the SkyWay rolling stock are responsible not only for its movement, they also perform work that rests on depot employees' shoulders in conventional transport. Various sensors of temperature, rpm, wear and other parameters collect information about the technical state of the modules, send it to the control center, where the computer, referring to the specified norms, decides whether the vehicle should be send for maintenance or is allowed to continue its operation.
There are a lot of various sensors and detectors installed both in vehicles and at infrastructure facilities: e.g. salon temperature sensors, battery performance meters, door opening sensor, switch positions sensor, etc. The data that comes from them is processed directly by the on-board computer and is used to make specific control decisions: for example, when the battery is overheated, the vehicle decides itself whether it needs to stop immediately, or just slow down, or it can continue riding to the next station.
The processed data from the vehicle gets to the control center, where a special system collects the necessary statistics and decides on its basis what maintenance a specific module needs. It makes a maintenance worksheet and lays servicing in the schedule.
All sensors, vehicle units and computers are in constant cyclic communication: the changes in sensor readings affect the transport operation, and the changes in the transport operation in their turn, are reflected in sensor readings. All this is recorded by the computer, analyzed and affects the adjustment of routing tasks and servicing plan. Due to that, the entire system is under constant automated control.
Several more large-scale elements of the SkyWay transport information system are in the process of development: they are related to the business component of the projects operation, interaction between the transport and the user and other aspects. The information service will report about them as soon as this information has been disclosed.