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JR East opens test run of autonomous bullet train to media

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"It missed its intended stopping point by 8 centimeters, but this was within the allowable margin of 50 cm."

Beat that China.

Without stealing the tech, obviously!

-2 ( +16 / -18 )

A robot conductor wearing a mask. Kawaiiiiii

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

See how tight that dude is gripping his hands!

8 ( +10 / -2 )

I do not want to ride the autonomous shinkansen train.

4 ( +11 / -7 )

Japan train is at the mercy of US GPS system, Japanese only have a augmented GPS, that enhances the US system, US has the authority too deny anybody it uses

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Its driven by anonymous remote pilot not really autonomous driving is it.

Its being driven .

Why does it need to look like it has a driver ?

8cm omg thats not acceptable.

Almost equal ?

What does that mean anyway.

What gender is the pilot ?

Are they vegan ?

-12 ( +5 / -17 )

That cockpit looks really comfy.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Even on airlines, the focus of automation is to reduce on-duty pilot while cruising to one, not zero.

Who wants to ride a driver-less Shinkansen running at 320 km/hr?

10 ( +14 / -4 )

Japanese innovation for the win!

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

...as it eyes introducing trains without drivers in the future amid a labor shortage.

I know that human error is a big cause of accidents, but does this terrify anyone--not having anyone on board who can stop a train in case of any unforeseen problems?

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Simple and Elegant.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

JR East need the drivers out back armed with nightsticks and halon gas for the copycat knife-wielding pyros.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

if you are going to have a guy sit there, why not just have him drive it?

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Who wants to ride a driver-less Shinkansen running at 320 km/hr?

Kind of what I was thinking too. Like a pilotless passenger aircraft. Not ready for that yet, although most of us get on those airport subway/shuttle things that run between terminals which have no operator (Atlanta, Beijing) and probably never give its automation a second thought.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Imagine an attack on the ability to communicate on attain running at 320kph?!?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

amid a labor shortage

Here we go again. Japan doesn't have a labor shortage. Rather, it has a lack of secure jobs willing to pay a living wage. Raise wages and watch this so-called "labor shortage" disappear. It ain't rocket science!

17 ( +18 / -1 )

Who wants to ride a driver-less Shinkansen running at 320 km/hr?

Me.

If any technology lends itself to automation, it is the Shinkansen because it has its own unique infrastructure. With that in mind, almost all of the variables can be controlled - outside acts of God (and who is to say a human would respond any better?).

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

If any technology lends itself to automation, it is the Shinkansen because it has its own unique infrastructure.

In security, that's called security through obscurity, and isn't considered secure.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

They need to answer safety and security questions before I have confidence in such automation:

How does the train AI respond to and earthquake? A fire in car no 3? A murderous suicidal maniac running with knives stabbing passengers?

A health emergency of a passenger?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

introducing trains without drivers in the future amid a labor shortage.

I can never understand this statement concerning bullet train drivers. It's one of the most sought after jobs for any driver. It's the creme de la creme and many fail trying to get a seat in the cockpit of one.

As others have said, I'd like to have one human driver available in case something happens. Even if he's reading a comic book or something off to the side.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Shikansen trains already react automatically to earthquakes.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"Autonomous shinkansen" being piloted from the depot is not autonomous then, is it?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I am impressed that even on a Japanese train automation article, people can somehow find a way to take potshots at China.

@dango bong

That seems like an easy question to answer. You want a human driver standing by the first [many] times you test something, to be on standby ready to take over. Once you can confirm everything is working as expected, you can reduce that; legally they may still want to have somebody on standby though.

Most people don't expect things to run 100% perfectly the very first time they ever try it.

Once they can confirm everything works, I trust computers more than people generally.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@Bruce Wayne "how does the AI respond to an earthquake"....probably the same way it responds to an earthquake now....do you think it's the driver who senses the shaking amidst the shaking of thundering train and brakes??

2 ( +2 / -0 )

JR East is therefore also testing the use of local 5G high-speed communication services to send high-quality video footage from trains to the control center in real time.

More jobs in control centres watching screens of trains running down tracks?

Swap them out for real drivers! Avoid diseases from sitting too long, eye strain, etc..

Give them job satisfaction.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It missed its intended stopping point by 8 centimeters

There is room for improvement

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What could go wrong....???

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Beat that China.

Without stealing the tech, obviously!

Of chorus China will try and steal the tech, but it wouldn’t, this is some thing that’s going to be huge down the road, give it time and then you’ll see China mysteriously and miraculously come out with their own version and they will claim that they have developed it all on their own.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Agreed: “Driverless trains are nothing new”, so to speak - Some preliminary ‘tests’ may have already be run without public disclosure. Once in awhile, such news does go public: May 21, 2021  “Shinkansen driver leaves controls for toilet while train running at 150kph”.

- “The railway company has been conducting autonomous shinkansen test rides for technical checks since Oct 29. It has also been testing bringing the trains to an emergency stop.” -

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I love the idea but my concern is

who is going to stop the train if there would be some crazy person with knife?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Singapore's MRT is self-driving, as is London's DLR - which has been for decades. It's time for Luddites to get with the programme.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

One autonomous bullet train, but still, the driver sitting in the photo with clenched fists will have to fill out a stack of reports, put hanko stamps on it, report reports (all in Excel, of course), then print it out and fax it somewhere.

So far everything autonomous here is backed up by an army of fax machines and other desk officers. And after all, it's necessary and not possible to just let the train run? But nobody is saying that.

In my decades here, and through working in our company for other companies, I know and see how the volume of different clerks and paperwork has increased with the deployment of IT and automation.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Its not self driving and if you think intelligence is artificial then there's definitely room for improvement.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Good show of tech but labor shortage? Operating Shinkansen shouldn’t be that labor intensive.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Again that nonsense with labor shortage.

There is no labor shortage. There are just people not willing to take underpaid jobs, harresement and buying of the superiors and over all crappy working conditions.

Anyway, there can never be a "labor shortage" for Shinkansen drivers since all the train conductors in Japan have their career dream to become Shinkansen conductors.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Can tech really replace the confidence for passengers in the knowledge that there is a skilled driver, a human being in full charge.

Accused me of a luddite mentality, however, why make such changes when the system is not broken?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Planes fly on auto pilot. 

Sometime "George" as we called the autopilot has a "stray tron" and does spectacularly unsafe things. We never fully trusted the autopilot and always monitored what the aircraft was doing. Often if was smoother than a human pilot but you always had to be prepared to take manual control. George has tried to kill me more than once.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

That beautiful sweeping control console with all those high tech screens, and then in the lower right is this beige sheetmetal box with three big crude buttons like one sees in an industrial setting sort of scabbed onto the console with a exposed cable and canon plug. What kind of kludge is that?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

and then in the lower right is this beige sheetmetal box with three big crude buttons like one sees in an industrial setting sort of scabbed onto the console with a exposed cable and canon plug. What kind of kludge is that?

The piping suggests pneumatics.

Its probably for the fax machine.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

They really put a mask on the robot conductor. Lol. Pandemic is getting comical.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is only a first step. One day the driverless trains will also be passenger-less, as automation and AI make humans redundant, what few people actually work will work from home, and all travel will be done virtually, thereby reducing the carbon footprint exponentially.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Danielsan

It is only a first step. One day the driverless trains will also be passenger-less, as automation

Both exist already, as do pilotless planes and other robots. It is just a question of getting the population used to them.

and AI make humans redundant, what few people actually work will work from home, and all travel will be done virtually, thereby reducing the carbon footprint exponentially.

Are you unaware of the massive carbon footprint of the existing internet structure, not to speak the increased one of the planned global 5G network? None this comes for free. Also, what exactly are all those humans locked at home supposed to do? There will have to be production, consumption, disposal of materials, and human activity. Energy deman will have to increase not decrease in tandem with a growing human population.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

snowymountainhell

Agreed: “Driverless trains are nothing new”, so to speak - Some preliminary ‘tests’ may have already be run without public disclosure. 

The Yurikamome Line in Tokyo is driverless. Fundamentally the only difference to the Shinkansen is speed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Yrral the US cannot deny GPS to individual countries, areas, or users. It doesn't work that way. The GPS satellites only broadcast very accurate time of day and the precise orbital details for each satellite. The satellites do not know who is receiving them. It's up to the user equipment to do the calculations to find their position. They can completely turn off or degrade the accuracy of the entire system while keeping access for the military running. That has never been done and would be a severe impact on the world economy if it was done.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

And, from Today’s news @Zaphod 5:23pm, the human conductor’s FULL attention! - Nov, 11, 2021:

https://japantoday.com/category/national/shinkansen-conductor-caught-playing-gps-smartphone-game-on-bullet-train…for-10-years

- “Fundamentally, the only difference to the Shinkansen is speed. . . ” -

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Correction. Deleted above @8:48pm:

0 ( +0 / -0 )

… And, from Today’s news @Zaphod 5:23pm, the human conductor’s FULL attention- Nov, 19, 2021:

https://japantoday.com/category/national/shinkansen-conductor-caught-playing-gps-smartphone-game-on-bullet-train…for-10-years

- “Fundamentally, the only difference to the Shinkansen is speed. . . ” -

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Yrral the US cannot deny GPS to individual countries, areas, or users

Not entirely true, and the US military is devoting a lot of effort to being able to operate in what they are calling a "GPS denied environment". Ship's crews are practicing celestial navigation after years of relying entirely on GPS. The US is re-establishing a new kind of LORAN capability called E-LORAN for what is called "PNT resiliency". The different branches are researching ways to make gyros smaller and more accurate, including being able to update positions inflight through reference to ground objects to reduce or eliminate the need to rely on a GPS signal that might be jammed when you need it. Consider a GPS signal is really very weak so jamming it requires very little energy and can be accomplished with a very small jammer.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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