The German national rail service, Deutsche Bahn (DB), will be using artificial intelligence (AI) applications in freight transport throughout Germany, a railway spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Credit: Peter Kneffel/dpa

Location-based systems, so-called camera bridges, are to be mounted onto infrastructure so that trains can be recorded from several angles and then scanned by AI software.

The application makes it possible to detect damage to trains at an early stage, the DB said. In turn, this also helps to repair freight wagons more efficiently and quickly.

Industrial raw materials such as metal or scrap can also be recognized and sorted more quickly.

“Artificial intelligence will become an integral part of our operations immediately,” said DB executive Sigrid Nikutta in Nuremberg on Wednesday. She added that it will also help the national rail service to become more climate-friendly.

The first camera bridge began its testing phase at a marshalling yard in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg in 2017. There are now 13 camera bridges there and in seven other DB Cargo locations in Germany.

DB said they record some 300,000 images during close to 10,000 routes a day, which are then analyzed by AI software.

The images provide information about the condition of a train’s brakes, among other data.

A new job title, digital diagnostician, was created to handle the AI software. Until now, it took up to an hour to inspect a cargo train, depending on its length.