The future of the rail industry: How AI and machine learning are revolutionising rail transport
In our everyday lives, we increasingly encounter applications that are automated by artificial intelligence (AI) methods or new fields of application that are opened up by AI.
AI and machine learning (ML) have undergone rapid development in recent years and now influence almost all industries. The railway market is no exception, and AI-based components are increasingly being used. This is about much more than the automation of processes.
AI makes it possible to recognise and analyse complex relationships in order to make precise predictions and decisions. This can lead to (even) more reliable control and safety technology, reduce operating costs, increase efficiency and improve the effectiveness and flexibility of railway operations.
The tools for this are manifold. AI algorithms and corresponding hardware can perform predictive maintenance or condition-based monitoring. Monitoring functions can be applied to vehicles, stations, tracks and points or to the visual inspection of track systems, overhead lines or tunnel structures. The use in safety-relevant systems is also quite conceivable. From assistance systems such as driving and brake control to safety systems such as collision protection and autonomous or semi-autonomous driving, AI applications can make railway operations safer. A particular challenge here is proving functional safety for systems that use Deep Learning.
Market Volume and Growth
In 2020, the global AI market was estimated to be worth around US$58.3 billion and will grow to a volume of US$309.6 billion by 2026. This corresponds to an average annual growth of 33.2%. The market for AI in the rail market was estimated at around US$1.3 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow to US$3.6 billion by 2026 – an average annual growth of 19.7%.
Overall, the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in the railway market is a trend that will continue to grow in importance in the future. This is also shown by data from GlobalData: The number of companies filling positions in the field of artificial intelligence increased in January compared to the same period last year.