WATERTOWN — New York Air Brake has unveiled its newest autopilot train control software, which could allow for complete automation of trains when released for purchase.
Railroad executives and other industry leaders witnessed the latest iteration of the manufacturer’s LEADER on-board train control and energy management system and its innovative ability to start and stop a heavy-haul train during a demonstration on Aug. 27 at the Transportation Technology Center, Inc., in Pueblo, Colo.
According to a news release from the company, the new system controlled the throttle, dynamic brake, independent brake and air brakes on a positive train control-compliant train with three locomotives and 30 loaded wagons as it traveled along 48 miles of test track.
Jason Connell, senior vice president of marketing, sales and service for the manufacturer, said by controlling how a train starts and stops, the newest version of LEADER, which stands for Locomotive Engineer Assist/Display and Event Recorder, can help engineers further reduce fuel consumption and collisions between rail cars, cargo impact and, in worse case scenarios, rollovers.
“It can be a fully autonomous running train from start to stop,” he said, adding that the new system “continues to help cement us as a tech leader in the industry.”
While the software exhibited initial success, the company plans to hold more tests and demonstrations for the latest LEADER iteration before it begins to sell the product.
Mr. Connell said he believes deploying the product in U.S. trains may take longer than in other countries because the railroads across it have many obstructions, particularly road crossings, that other countries lack. He also said he does not expect the new system to displace engineers on the trains.
Workers in Irving, Texas, develop LEADER, but Mr. Connell said the acclaim and prospective success of the product benefits all company locations, including its headquarters in Watertown. LEADER controls the brakes manufactured by the company.
“We continue to demonstrate our desire to advance our company,” he said.
The iterations of LEADER that are available have been incorporated into more than 5,000 locomotives worldwide.