Under a Creative Commons License:
Ramirez, R. C.; Adin-Marcos, Í. (Íñigo); Alvarado-Videira, U. (Unai); et al. "Freight train in the age of self-driving vehicles. A taxonomy review". IEEE Access. 10, 2022, 9750 - 9762
Recently, the first successful deployment of a fully automated commercial freight train operation was announced. This is the world's first automated heavy-duty and long-haul rail network. It's an impressive achievement, but why has it taken so long to achieve this when driverless urban metros have been in operation for more than 50 years? Although urban metros and freight trains are vehicles moved on rails, their operation and environment differ significantly. Metros operate in closed rail networks, while freight trains operate in open rail networks. However, the same taxonomy is often used to classify automation interchangeably in both environments. This paper provides context and an overview of driving automation in freight rail and reviews the existing taxonomies. This paper starts by providing context with an overview of the general process of driving a vehicle by delimiting its different stages. Next, we describe the overall process of driving a freight train to show the distinctive features of its setup and operation. In this analysis, we will point out the essential differences between open and closed rail networks, and the tasks that can potentially be automated. Additionally, we examine the evolution of level-based automation taxonomies and review those that have been proposed exclusively for driving automation in open and closed railway networks. Our objective is to provide a thorough summarization of the most relevant taxonomies to advance the definition of a suitable taxonomy and framework to classify automation capabilities in rail freight transport and identify some complex challenges ahead.