Deutsche Bahn, the German government-owned rail system that manages travel throughout the country, is planning to add autonomous vehicles to its system with the goal of offering seamless door-to-door transit.
As Deutsche Bahn’s CEO Reedier Grube explained to the German publication WirtschaftsWoche, the system already markets trains as a good alternative to driving because they help passengers use time more effectively. “If in the future autonomous cars can do this, then the operators of these cars can claim the same about their services. That’s why we will have to add autonomously driving cars to our offering.”
The railway operator has been discussing using self-driving cars internally for some time. A strategy document for Deutsche Bahn touts the importance of “multimodal mobility” and “end-to-end service,” and it specifically points to autonomous vehicles as part of an “integrated land transport system.” As you’re arriving at your station, a car might be summoned for you, zipping you the last mile (or few kilometers) back to your home or office.
Transit operators in the US have partnered with on-demand services like Uber and Lyft to connect passengers to buses and trains as a solution to the “last mile” problem. But this would be the first autonomous fleet to be integrated into a transit network, and a nationwide one, at that. As for whether Deutsche Bahn will partner with an existing self-driving program already in the works or invent its own from scratch, we don’t know. But, well, it’s Germany, where car manufacturers are on every corner. How about calling the program the Autonomousbahn?